How to stop cynics infecting your team

Career masterclass in stopping those cynics in their tracks.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Be open. Cynics thrive on rumours and half-truths. ('They're probably planning to cut your budget.') Share as much as you can with your team as regularly as possible, and be on hand to answer questions. Make yours the only news worth listening to.

Ignore them. In meetings, give less attention to the cynics and more to those who make a sensible contribution.

Pass the power. We're more likely to thrive during tricky times if we're optimistic and take responsibility for overcoming challenges. Keep your team too busy to listen to cynics.

Take them on. Before your next team meeting, arm yourself with the facts needed to answer your cynics' accusations. Invite them to voice their complaints then quash them one by one.

Find champions. Enlist your most positive team members as anti-cynics to counter every sneering comment with an optimistic perspective or constructive suggestion.

Get moving. Announcing a new way? Take action as soon as possible and plan some quick wins. Cynics can't warn that the change will 'never work' if it already is working.

Warn them. Meet the cynics privately and explain the impact of their behaviour on their chances of progress. There's nothing like a little straight talking to bring out the optimist in someone.

Silence with symbolism. Cynics use emotive methods (hyperbole, scaremongering) to lower mood. Two can play that game, so use gestures to spread good feeling. So if cynics say you're out of touch, quit your office and sit among your team.

Favour the optimists. Share publicly the fact that you value attitude alongside impact and prove it by giving opportunities to the 'can doers', even if they're less skilled. Stay positive. You are the most powerful advert your team has for dismissing cynics. Don't let them think you're losing the faith.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99.

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