Pessimism


“Beautiful day today isn’t it?”
“Yeah but their calling for rain later this week.”
“Heard you got a new car. That must be nice.”
“Not as nice as you’d think, now I’ve got monthly payments to make.”

Can you spot the negativity in the conversation between two people above? Do you know anyone who strikes you as a generally pessimistic or negative person? You know, someone who can always find the downside of situations or warn of impending doom to come? I’m willing to bet that you know or have known at least one if not a few people who too easily could be described as pessimistic.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it can be disheartening and discouraging to have to work with a pessimistic person on a regular basis. Sometimes it can even feel like that person is pulling a project in the wrong direction or hoping it will fail somehow just to justify their low expectations. For the rest of the people who are banking on success and optimistic as they go about their work, this kind of person can be anything from mildly annoying to openly hostile.

Now here’s a question for you to ponder. Do you yourself come across to others as being a pessimist, either in specific situations or perhaps in general? If the answer to that question is yes, do you enjoy that role? What if anything do you derive from being a pessimist and how do your co-workers interact with you? And finally, you’ve got to ask yourself if you want to continue to be pessimistic or whether you’d rather come across as optimistic as you go about your work and interacting with others.

Being pessimistic means you’ve got this gloomy outlook; you expect things to fail. I’ve heard people say that by having low expectations and expecting failure all the time, you can only be pleasantly surprised if things turn out good, but if they fail, you expected it and aren’t disappointed. In my opinion, that’s a sad and very unhealthy attitude.

Make no mistake about it, you could find that this kind of prevalent attitude can be a career killer, or at least limit your opportunities; opportunities you may one day dearly wish you could take advantage of. In other words, it’s in your own best interests NOT to be a pessimist, aside from the general climate you create for others working with you.

People in upper management often have to share their visions for the organization, establish goals to be aimed at, develop mission statements and come up with values that the company strives to live up to. In order to do this overall, these become guiding principles that drive day-to-day actions from employees. Get everyone on board pulling in the same direction and the customer or client experience starts to then view the company in a homogenous way and the branding experience is consistent.

If on the other hand you were to go about your work with low expectations, interacting with customers and clients expecting things to fail etc., you’d likely be creating doubt in their minds about their own association with your organization, and they may seek out partnerships and investments with others who are generally more positive and optimistic about the future.

Now don’t misconstrue a pessimist with a realist. A realist generally looks at things factually. String together a series of facts and the outcome is predictable as they view it. That outcome may be positive or not, but they see outcomes based on the facts as they come to be known. So their expectation of what the weather will be for the company picnic this coming weekend is based on weather forecasts from trusted and informed sources. If it doesn’t look good to them, they base that view on the best information they can gather. The pessimist anticipates poor weather without really checking, or may expect rain even when forecasts don’t call for it.

The optimist view of the above scenario would be to hope for the best even if a forecast calls for rain, but it doesn’t mean they show up without taking precautions like bringing umbrella’s or arranging alternative sheltered locations just in case. You can still be optimistic but intelligent after all.

If you have aspirations of supervising people one day, know that most companies will steer clear of placing pessimistic people in positions of influence and leadership. Who wants to work for the gloomy boss who expects the worst all the time and goes about their job everyday with that outlook?

The most important thing to realize is that you have the ability to choose how you come across to others. It’s up to you what words leave your mouth, what facial expressions you put out to the world, what comments you write when asked for your input.

It costs so little to be more optimistic when the returns can be so enormous. Smile a little more, if you’ve nothing but bad things to contribute bite your tongue. You can still be cautious and point out things to be wary of without predicting doom and gloom consistently. You may find a change not only in your own outlook on things but, also a change in who you attract in those around you.

And by chance you’ve had this put before you by persons unknown, it’s possible someone is hopeful you’ll consider a change.

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2 thoughts on “Pessimism

  1. I decided a very long time ago that many aspects of life, and the way we live it, comes down to simple choices. Do I choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood today? Do I choose to find just one way to lift up someone today or do I ignore them at best and be rude or inconsiderate at worst? It’s so easy to tell the lady in front of you in the grocery check-out line that the color of her blouse is beautiful. Watch the light flood her face. And guess who feels even better than the lady. You. Me.

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  2. I like the previous comment. It is so true that we can choose to be positive even when we are having problems. I have found that being acting in a positive way, being considerate, etc when I am having a bad time myself makes me feel even better.

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