This article was originally published on EventMB & reprinted here with permission.
The article was first written in 2016, but the concepts still hold true today…
In a world that seems to be full of drama, stress, and negative thoughts and actions, it is an ever-increasing challenge to stay positive. While I hope we all want to be positive people, it is sometimes hard not to get sucked into the habit of complaining and negativity. Here are some ways that you can help avoid feeding off of the endorphins and excitement that stress creates.
“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step
forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.” - Robert Brault
Reduce Negative Networking
Have you ever noticed that many of the conversations you have at conferences are negative? I find it very common for people to start conversations with a negative topic, trying to find something to bond with and talk about. Talking negative about the the speaker, the food, or even complaining about the weather always seems to be discussion starters.
When you are having these conversations, take notice of how you are reacting. Are you reacting positively or simply reacting negatively and going with the flow? If someone starts a negative conversation with you, remember that it is ok to politely disagree and move the conversation in a more positive direction.
Don’t be afraid to talk about positive things. While you may have negative observations, you do not necessarily need to discuss them at that time. Find something positive to talk about. It could be sharing a quote from a conference speaker, recommending a great restaurant, or discussing a new skill or hobby. Be happy and genuine. Your attitude, whether negative or positive, is contagious. Be the type of person you would like to have a conversation with.
Give Compliments, Not Just Negative Critiques
Give compliments and praise! Be on the lookout for people that are going the extra mile. If you see someone doing a great job, say something. Excellence can be rare and should be rewarded. Don’t take it for granted. Compliment them. Leave them a note. Shake their hand. Tell them. Show them that you are thankful and that you noticed.
If I experience good service, I like to tweet shoutouts naming that specific person, being sure to tag that particular store, and corporate accounts if possible. While I am recognizing them, it also helps the people they work with see the recognition as well. You could also write an email or a letter recognizing a person. Think of how you feel when someone notices the great work that you do. Isn’t it wonderful when you, your client, or your employer receives a compliment about your work? When truly deserving, that recognition feels wonderful. Take the extra step and give that recognition and feeling to someone who earned it.
As far as negative comments, we all know people are much more likely to talk about a negative customer experience rather than a positive one. When something goes wrong, or a mistake is made, people instantly jump on social media to vent to the world and share their horror. While some of these reviews may be accurate, if the positive reviews are not represented as well, a distorted image of the company is portrayed. If you have something positive to say, say it. Don’t wait for a company to bribe you with discounts in order for a review. If a negative remark is needed, be sure it is in a constructive manner, and not simply a scathing review that could destroy someone. Everyone makes mistakes. Help people grow through these mistakes without demeaning them.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes we can be our own worst critics, can’t we? I know many times after a great event, I only focus on the one person that had a complaint, or a small thing that may not have gone as planned. The cliché is true - you can’t please everyone. That is an important thing to understand and remember.
Even though #eventprofs are awesome, we still sometimes make mistakes. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up over it. While you should definitely take the blame and accept it (and fix it!), don’t let that one thing irrationally overshadow the numerous other things that you have done that were amazing!
Take the time after your event to analyze your experience. Be constructive when criticizing yourself, and don’t beat yourself up if you see that something could have been done better. Take the opportunity to learn from the experience and grow from it. Be positive about the experience, continue to grow, and be more awesome next time.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - Arthur Ashe
Beware of Negative Influences
While we love our #EventProf Life, we all have some working relationships that may not be very beneficial to our positive outlook. Negativity can come from many different places, including clients and event attendees.
One of the hardest decisions is letting go of a difficult client. Perhaps the client is becoming increasingly demanding and thrives on tight deadlines, or they may be disrespectful or unprofessional. It’s important to have a clear head and not be emotional when evaluating whether it’s time to let a client go. Reflecting on my own past, there was a time when I had to let a client go that was so negative, I felt it was borderline abusive and had begun to affect my own health. The reduction of stress and negativity outweighed the financial impact of leaving this client. While it was difficult, it was something I needed to do for myself.
As event professionals, part of our job is to deal with attendee complaints. While your first instinct is that this is a negative situation, you have been given the opportunity to solve the problem. Being positive is an important step to handling an attendee complaint at an event. It sets the tone for the interaction with that attendee and resolving the issue efficiently.
Take Time for Yourself
You are the most important part of being positive. When we take time for ourselves and feel balanced, we feel happier and more positive! Even if you are busy, find some time to take a break every once in awhile. Work smart, work hard, but give yourself a break. Do something that you enjoy and that makes you happy. Go for a walk. Phone a friend. Crochet. Walk the dog. Pet a dog. Play a game! Take a nap. Learn to juggle. Organize your closet. Make a healthy, but fabulous meal. You could even…(pause for effect)…exercise!
The ultimate goal is for you to be happy. Find things that make you happy and be sure to include them in your life. If you are happy, you will be more inclined to view the world in a positive light and spread that positivity to the people around you.
Being positive starts with you. Don’t forget to look for the happy in the world. If all you see is negativity, the world becomes a horrible and negative place. Create positive interactions and help inspire the people around you. Remember that your attitude is contagious. Be strong enough to be positive, even if the people are you are not. Network and provide compliments or critiques from a positive frame of mind. Wonderful things are happening all the time - you just have to make sure you are looking for them.