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Life Health > Running Your Business

Overcoming Negativity: Mankind’s Deadliest (Self-Inflicted) Disease

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I don’t really remember a time in my life when I had negative thoughts. I am sure there must have been some occasions, but not being able to remember them suggests they have been rare. In fact, thinking about it, one of the words most often used to describe me by friends, colleagues and staff is “positive.”

I am genuinely uncomfortable in the company of negative people; I have nothing in common with them, but I do have my own “repellant” (more about that in a moment).

A quotation my mother often used was:

“Experience informs us that the first offence of weak minds is to recriminate.”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And indeed, I have discovered that negative people typically suffer from what I call the three “C’s”: criticizing, condemning and complaining. So let me share some tips to help you overcome negativity and to recognize it in others.

Try to develop your own understanding of what negativity really is. Remember that constructive criticism is not negative. Check your conversations with others. Are you being negative? Check your thoughts and thinking processes. Remember, if you are thinking negatively, the only person you are harming is yourself. Remove those thoughts as you would spam email from your inbox. Discard them. You have the capacity to do that and your mind will respond if you try hard enough.

Build a bulletproof screen around you, so that negative comments or behavior from other people cannot penetrate. You can do this by instantly recognizing negative criticism or conversation for what it is.

From time to time, check the company you are keeping. If you have been mixing in the wrong environment, talk to people who are positive. Go out and mix with people you know have positive, constructive ideas. Mix with people who are doing better than you.

Have your own negative repellent. I have mine: Whenever anyone says anything really negative to me, I just say, “Fantastic!” No truly negative person enjoys hearing that word—they run for cover.

Remember, sadly, the negative is always stronger than the positive. For example, imagine a barrel of 240 really healthy apples. You open the barrel and place one rotten apple right in the middle. When you come back in two weeks’ time, you would think that, at odds of 240 to one, the healthy apples would have converted the bad one, right? Far from it, you will discover many more rotten apples. And that is exactly what happens within a company, within an office, within a sales team.

“The most evil, dangerous and cancerous complaint that humanity inflicts upon itself is to be negative.”—Anonymous

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit, or go to his blog at


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