“Our brains are wired to pick up negative things in the environment. It’s thought to be very adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint.” Source
If true, no wonder we are so easily prone to default to a negative interpretation about so many things, and why (as the article also suggests) we can hear 10 nice things and then Number 11 comes along and is negative and that’s the one we fixate on.
Social media tends to bring out excessive negativity. You can post one thought about one topic, and it seems there’s always somebody who says, “But you didn’t ALSO talk about <Other Distantly Related Thing> at the same time! That must mean You Don’t Care About It.”
Or the other classic, “You must not know about Y since you only talked about X.”
Wouldn’t it be better to give someone, especially your friends, the benefit of the doubt? Never mind the fact that you were trying not to completely muddle the conversation you were trying to have, or trying to keep from derailing your point.
Like empathy, it takes an extra step or two of deliberate thinking to switch over to a different mindset than our norm.
Next time you see something you knee-jerk disagree with, see what happens when you try to look at it more positively. (And so will I.)
Earlier this year I wrote about the passing of my father-in-law.
In that post, I mentioned nonverbals as something we teach here at work that you really can use everywhere you go.
Call it body language, signals, or cues, from how you approach someone in the first place to how you show your acceptance and empathy when you get there, the nonverbals you project can make a huge difference in the outcome of the situation.
Even if it’s just holding someone’s hand as they lie in a hospital bed.
Something like this.
Here’s another way to look at this:
Behavior is communication.
We say that phrase a lot around here too.
Just as you should be watching your own body language, pay attention to what the other person is showing you.
Most of this we pick up without even thinking about it, but when you take the time to observe, you’ll see tons of visual cues that help you know what the other person is feeling or intending.
But not this!
Okay, great. So what do I do about it?
The best answer I can give is…to send you elsewhere!
I thought this was a great post written by a friend and colleague, aptly titled “Behavior is Communication.” The subject is dementia, but I find that most if not all of these tips work for different situations.
What’s one thing you wish you could change about this past year?
Was it, by any chance, a failed resolution? Sometimes we could all use a helping hand to make new year changes turn into lasting resolutions.
One thing I’ve been returning to again and again–and not just because I had the honor of leading the project–is my company’s Empathy video.
It was a great experience with great people, but more than that, I believe that by helping people look at things a different way, we can help make life better for them and for the people they see and serve. That’s something that can last!
You can help spread the message of empathy, perception, and hope to even more people by passing this video or similar messages on to your friends and family.
And thank you for making a difference.
Click here to watch and share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL5LfBRe4Uo
Want words instead? This little poster resonated with me strongly: