Suffering from: Negativity Effect?

This is the malaise du jour. What is it?

by Helen Kirwan-Taylor

Every morning, the headlines make us want to go back to bed, if not pack it in altogether. Technically, Negativity Effect is the habit of imbuing people with bad qualities that they don't possess because we don't like them, so therefore they must be evil, lazy and greedy. We used to say bankers, now we say 'greedy bankers', for example. But much as the Prozac generation would like us all to cheer up a bit, the truth is we're programmed to listen to bad news first, then (if no tigers are coming after us), to bask in the sun. But often happy, clappy species don't survive for long. Negativity Effect is a kind of evolutionary hangover. It was once useful but now it just makes us pooh pooh others' ideas and behave, well, like the French. It's a tough one to change, but start with the colleague you dislike most and see if you can find a single positive quality. Ask him to lunch. Focusing in on NE has a way of making it disperse (at least temporarily). When you go back to thinking he's a jerk, at least you can say you tried.

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