Meetings – while the number one goal is education, an equally important side effect is inspiration! Who is able to feel inspired and motivated if your energy is being pulled down by “Negative Nancies?”
You know the pessimistic types of people I’m referring to… at a meeting they usually have these types of comments:
  • “Wow, breakfast was horrible; I can’t believe they fed us all sugar and carbs.”
  • “The lectures have all been so commercially charged; I can’t believe they’re letting the speakers get away with this.”
  • “The sales rep in the exhibit hall are so pushy; I can’t go in there without feeling like I’m being harassed by a million used car salesmen.”
It seems to go on and on…. and what’s worse is that it can be very easy to get sucked into it as well. Even if you agree with some of the comments that a negative individual is bringing to the table, it’s a waste of time to focus on the unfavorable side and things that you won’t be able to change/control anyway. Instead, your time will be much more productive if you’re able to do a number of things:
Focus on the aspects of the meeting that you do find enjoyable and that are meeting your learning goals. Then, instead of talking to others about the poor experiences, lift everybody up by talking about all of the portions you are finding useful and interesting. You will see others’ eyes light up and they will be more inclined to share their positive stories too! I would much rather spend time with smiling people.
Bail!!! Get away from the energy suckers!! It’s so true that misery loves company and this is all these types of people like to dwell on. It’s not going to bring you any joy or motivation to keep pushing through a long day of learning, so when you feel the happiness in the room being sucked up by a “fun vacuum,” simply walk away and avoid further engagement.
Flip it. There’s nothing that makes a Negative Nancy feel more uncomfortable than feeling like he/she is not in the right with his/her thoughts or feelings. When a person is so determined to only talk about the portions of the meeting that are unfavorable, try to throw in a comment about the silver lining of the situation or see if you can save this person from him/herself by providing some positivity yourself. It may make that person change his/her tune; plus you will walk away feeling better about sharing happiness instead of spreading misery. And if the person is just unwilling – revert to principle two!