I’m spending some time this week sending out Christmas cards to a lot of people who have given me support in my business this year. There have been many challenges, of course, but on the whole I’m pretty blessed by all the people I’ve been able to work with.
I tend to classify people into two large categories: largely supportive, and largely critical. We all have our times of each, of course, but I’d like to think that I spend a lot more time in the supportive camp.
When you’re critical, the people who the subject of the comments feel attacked and de-valued. Others who hear your words tend to be repelled, unless they’re so emotional that they want to “pile on” and participate in negative comments themselves.
And, most important, you yourself build up a shell of cynicism and hard feelings. You erode your enthusiasm for making a contribution, and the world starts looking more black and white.
When you’re supportive, people are attracted toward you. Everyone wants appreciation and love, of course – it’s a basic human need. Others will start behaving more positively themselves.
And you change your own outlook: The world looks more colorful, and you have more energy. You start seeing possibilities where before there were none.
I’ve noticed that these extremes seem to be magnified on social media, particularly Facebook. My theory is that peoples’ tendencies – both positive and negative – are less restrained by the social pressure of seeing how people respond while you’re speaking.
I see some wonderful supportive behavior on Facebook – contributing to causes, passing around words of encouragement, and truly insightful humor. But how quickly this can be turned sour by mean-spiritedness, cynicism, and promoting bad information!
Which of those groups do YOU want to hang out with?