People respond to positivity. The Dalai Lama, confirmed by science, notes that people are more inclined to be open to others who are smiling. And our own mood rises measurably when we choose to smile.
I’ve learned some tough lessons in this regard in the past couple of weeks. My last couple of posts here were cast in negative terms — I asked people if they were “mud in the social media waters” and whether it was time for them to “grow up socially,” and I received some appropriate reactions. I could have cast those in positive terms. Through a completely different set of personal experiences, I’ve been seeing some astonishing acts of callousness in social media, especially in comment culture. I have to admit that as I analyze it, I can find some of the same behaviors in myself. We can all be better in cultivating positivity.
I saw this in action while working for a fundraising organization. Traditionally, charity appeals have been about guilt–they would say, How can you stand to let this suffering continue? They implied, What kind of a person are you? This organization I worked for turned it around and said, We know you have lots of ways to get involved. How can we be the organization that helps you do it the way you want to? And it was successful as a result–it appealed to the best in people. Every trace of guilt and pressure that could be found was removed from it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was aimed in the right direction.
You win more flies with honey, if you’d prefer a colloqualialism. People buy positive feelings.
So how do we do it? How do we keep it upbeat and positive? Here are some thoughts:
- Resolve to be positive. Practice being positive–set aside some time in your budget to do good deeds (comment on someone’s blog, promote some links, etc.).
- Frame your output in terms of solutions. Don’t concentrate on the problem–concentrate on the answer.
- Say how. Acknowledge what’s wrong, but give me advice on how to fix it.
- Tell some jokes. Burst your own bubble once in a while. One of my new friends, Nick Layman, is a genius at this. I have yet to find anything he couldn’t make into a funny video idea. Funny, but not hurtful.
- Don’t be Pollyanna. People can smell false optimism a mile way. Being positive is hard work. You have to work to find it.
- Surround yourself with positive people. (Thanks, Mark.)
- Remember that everything you say may be read by the actual human being about whom you’re writing. A person who is someone’s son or daughter.
- Don’t work on public-facing material when you know you’re tired or cranky. It will show. (Guilty.)
- Give thanks. Be free with your praise. It costs you nothing.
So, as we pause in the United States to give thanks, how do you like to stay positive? What are your favorite examples of positivity in social media?
And please let me take this opportunity to thank you for reading. It is hugely appreciated.