Note: This is our second post in our series inspired by The Commitment Engine. You can read the first post here.
John Jantsch tells a very interesting story early on in The Commitment Engine. He was at a dinner with some other people on the social media speaking circuit, and his fellow diners were bashing another speaker who wasn’t there. They were claiming that this speaker must fake everything he says because he never has actually done the kind of work that he talks about. These people asked John to weigh in and his response was that everyone probably fakes it to some extent, in one way or another. What he really was thinking, according to his book, is that probably these people were bashing this other person because his success made them feel insecure. Why was he having such good luck? Why was he more popular than they were?
Jantsch suggests that often, when we react negatively to another company, another person, or another situation, what we really are doing is protecting our own sensitivities about ourselves. These people who were bashing another speaker were perhaps really expressing their own lack of confidence in their speaking abilities. If an author lashes out against another author, it may be because there is a fear the other author is better. If your company finds it tempting to lash out against your competitors in an ad or online, it is possible that what you are really doing is betraying a lack of confidence in your own product or service.
Let’s face it, if we’re sure that we’re better, we don’t really take note of anything or anyone else, right?
Jantsch suggests that when you have that twinge that makes you want to react negatively to someone or something, what you really should do is stop yourself and ask, “What insecurity am I experiencing here, and how can I fix it?” This can work on a personal level as well as on a corporate level.
Let’s say that your company manufacturers capital equipment. Your strongest competitor manufactures something very similar, and there is always a lot of mumbling within your corporate walls about how high-tech their product is or low they have priced it in comparison with yours. If you hear a lot of this kind of negativity in your company, see if you can follow John Jantsch’s advice and turn that string of complaints into something positive. If your employees really feel like your competitor’s product looks cleaner or more “modern” than yours, is that something your product development team can work on? If pricing is an issue that you have to deal with, is there a way to alter how your machines are manufactured so that you can be more competitive on price? Alternatively, you might discover through these conversations that everyone is actually pretty proud of your products and that they were just spewing negativity. That’s good to know, too.
On a personal level, you can approach vitriol as it evolves in the same way. Do you find that you’re always complaining about a co-worker, a peer, or a friend, even? Try to take a step away from the negativity. What do you really not like about them? Is it possible that what you feel is not really hatred or loathing but really a sense of jealousy? If so, what are you jealous of? Are you feeling insecure about that particular facet of your life? How can you fix it?
As communication becomes easier and easier with social media and mobile technology, negativity against others becomes easier and easier to spread. It’s extremely easy to complain, especially online when no one is there to stop you with a warning look. Try to analyze your behavior and determine what drives you to a negative place. You may find that this exercise could, as Jantsch suggests, actually lead to discovering things about yourself or your company that you could work to improve. A negative could become a major positive. What could be better than that?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fstorr/5474406739/ via Creative Commons