Optimists and pessimists – every company has them, not just yours. They are there to keep the balance of ideas and personalities within your company. If you only employ optimists, who will tell them about the disadvantages or the possible consequences of their actions? Who can help them prepare backup plans in case the original goes awry? That will be the pessimists.
Merriam-Webster defines optimism as “a doctrine that this world is the best possible world” and “an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.” While pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates undesirable outcomes or believes that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good or luxuries (Wikipedia.org). Simply put, optimists think of the positive result while pessimists think of the negative result. You can easily spot the optimists from the pessimists whenever you have a meeting and a brainstorming session.
You don’t need to convince pessimists to become optimists – you have to learn to make use of their differing perceptions to come out with a great plan. Who can help you understand and coach these personalities? An expert business coach will assist you on how to lead them properly and effectively.
The research of Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania’s Director of the Positive Psychology Center and author of the book “Learned Optimism,” suggests that the one with the real observation of the circumstances is the pessimist and the one that can be more successful is the optimist because of his/her positive outlook.
Leaders should learn how to utilize the positive attitude of the optimists and gain insight of possible problems and roadblocks through the contribution of the pessimists.
With the guidance of a business coach, you can do the following:
- Hear what they have to say about the subject, be it a plan or a project.
- Test their anxieties about a setback which they are thinking is permanent.
- Persuade them to classify the unfavorable events that they are thinking about.
- Give credit to them if they were able to help in achieving positive results.
- Encourage their positive views on how to make a plan or project work.
- Persuade them to analyze assumptions that resulted from a failure of a plan or project.
- Help them accept accountability in case of failures.
You should let each personality type know that you respect their differing opinions on issues. Do not show them that you are favoring the optimists over the pessimists or vice versa. Let them know that you cannot choose one without the other because they help you make smart decisions and effective strategies for the benefit of everyone in the company.
Through the help of a business coach, identify your employees’ strengths and build up their potentials because in doing so, you are honing their skills of becoming future problem-solvers, leaders, coaches, and team players.
Who will then benefit in the end? You…and your company!