Focus on the Positive, not the Negative

It is so easy to become discouraged and accept defeat. If all you hear are objections, complaints and every reason under the sun why something is not possible or why a customer is not going to buy, then unless you are really focused on your objective, you will almost certainly fail. In order to win, what you must do is seek out and focus on the positive elements not the negative ones.

Allow me to demonstrate the point. The following passage is something that I casually wrote some time ago for an in-house sales training session. As you read it, I want you to ignore the word “negative” but count how many times you read the word “positive”. (It is best to read it slowly, but to help you, every time the word “positive” appears I’ve written it in bold type.)

“Once upon a positive time, there was a negative young man and a negative young woman, who were so negative, they were positive that things were nearly always bad. Their job didn’t help! The negative young man and the negative young woman both had negative jobs. They worked together as complaint officers for a positive, up-and-coming company that produces the film for photographic negatives. Practically all day long the negative couple would moan and groan about how bad things were. And of course, in doing so they just made matters worse. In fact, the manager was positive that the negative couple were having such a negative effect on the overall morale of the whole workforce, that even the employees who normally had a good positive attitude seemed to be catching the negative disease. The manager knew that he had to do something positive to lift morale, even if it meant firing the negative young man and the negative young woman!

The manager, though, was reluctant to do this. He didn’t want to fire the negative couple because he was positive they both had the potential to do really well. It was obvious that something must be bothering the negative young couple, so much so that it was having a real negative effect upon them, both inside and outside of work. The manager decided to take the positive step of confronting the problem head on. So he went to see the negative couple, in order that they could discuss the problem and take positive steps to overcoming the negative atmosphere that was influencing everyone’s attitudes.

The negative young man and the negative young woman told the manager that their problem was a personal one – stemming from the fact that they were having problems starting a family. They told the manager how their doctor was positive that they would both go out of their minds if they continued on this negative course, where things just seemed to keep moving from bad to worse. The doctor suggested that they needed to relax and escape to a more positive environment; he suggested they took a holiday. The negative young man and the negative young woman were positive that a vacation would do them the world of good but they were concerned that the manager wouldn’t agree to them taking time off, due to their negative results at work lately… The manager, however, upon hearing their plight was very understanding and indeed, he agreed to the negative couple taking two weeks leave, but in a month’s time when he could arrange cover for them.

The negative young man and the negative young woman got to work straight away. They made a positive commitment and booked a romantic holiday in Venice, Italy. As the weeks passed by and the day of departure grew nearer they became more and more excited which in turn made them less negative and more positive. The funny thing is, the more positive they felt the more positive they became. It was a complete reversal. When they felt negative they acted negative, they attracted negative and became more and more negative. Now they were focusing on something positive they began to feel positive and act positive and they became more and more positive.

Well, as with all the best stories, this one has a happy ending. The negative young man and the negative young woman had a fantastic vacation. After a wonderful time in a positive and relaxed atmosphere, the negative couple returned home feeling refreshed and really positive. A day or two later the negative young woman dropped into her local chemist for a pregnancy test and guess what? That result was positive too!

Now, the moral of this little tale is simply this: You must focus on the positive not the negative. That is, concentrate on the things you want not on the things you don’t want!”

The above passage is a little complicated to read, which means that you have to really concentrate on looking and listening. If you counted correctly, you will have noted the word “positive” appears 24 times. Now I have another question for you. Without going back over the passage, how many times did you read the word “negative”? I expect that you’ll have no idea, which is exactly what I wanted you to say. The reality is that there were far more “negatives” than there were “positives” – just as there are often more negatives than positives from a customer in a sales presentation! (There word negative actually appears 37 times.) My point, again, is this – you must not listen to negatives or focus on problems; rather, you must remain focused on the positive and search out solutions.

R. Ian Seymour