Three Ways To Turn Any Conversation Positive

In ice hockey, a check is a defensive move aimed at disrupting an opponent who has the puck or by separating him from it entirely. There is the body check, and the hip check, and the cross check—fourteen checking techniques in all.

When people engage in negative talk in your presence—complaints, gossip, naysaying—you can check it using these three simple techniques.

As in hockey, each of these checks is a bit confrontational, but perfectly acceptable if done properly.

  1. Call It

The first technique in countering negative speech in others is to call it out by putting a label on what is being said. You can do that simply by saying what the speech is, and adding, “I don’t think we should do that.”

When you identify negative speech for what it is, it’s likely that the other party will stop or alter their tone. There’s no need to be critical, judgmental, or self-righteous; simply say, “That focuses too much on the negative, and I think we should talk about something else.”

  1. Counter It

When you hear complaining, naysaying, or gossiping, simply respond with an alternative, more positive view. When you hear someone insult or disparage someone who is not present, say something positive about that person. If others start to complain, put your positivity bias to work by pointing out fresh possibilities. If others are naysaying or talking down an idea without giving it a fair hearing, say why you think it just might work.

A small fire won’t turn into a blaze if you pour some water on it. And negative speech will not be contagious when you smother it by countering it with praise and possibilities.

  1. Leave It

Some people love to gossip or complain, and there’s simply no stopping them. You can’t turn a dyed-in-the-wool naysayer into a optimist overnight. There are occasions when you simply have to excuse yourself and leave the room in order to stem the tide of negative talk.

It may seem rude, but it’s worth it. Listening to a steady stream of complaints for fifteen minutes will drain your positive energy quicker than a day of hard labor. If you cannot prevent a negative conversation from harming others, you can at least check its impact upon yourself.

How do you respond when team members or associates engage in negative or destructive speech? I’d love to hear how you keep the conversation positive. Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter!



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