4 Ways To Work With a Pessimistic Thinker

Don't Rain On My ParadeYou’re tempted to walk the other way when you see him coming. You zone out when he starts talking in a meeting. Occasionally he inspires humor, but more often, the Pessimistic Thinker awakens the negativity in those around him.

However, the doctor’s dose of reality is worth hearing. The Pessimistic Thinker might be called the devil’s advocate, but he’s also a team’s advocate, whether they know it or not. He can identify common pitfalls, hidden risks, and flaws in your own thinking. Sometimes his advice is hard to hear, but there are ways to improve your relationship with this thinker.

Approach Him With Compassion

While he may present an icy demeanor and inspire the same in return, this individual responds to friendliness. You can offer him the respect he demands, while still appealing to him as a friend. The Pessimistic Thinker is nobody’s fool, but even he is not immune to the art of persuasion.

Give Him His Say

Often, the Pessimistic Thinker simply needs to be heard – to get it out there, so he doesn’t kick himself later when the worst happens. If the pessimistic thinker’s timing is wrong, such as during brainstorming, let him know that he will have a later opportunity to identify risks. Show him you value his input and that you will take his ideas into consideration.

Help Him See The Upside

You may avoid sharing your excitement with this thinker because you expect him to downplay it. As a team member, your challenge is to communicate with him, shield yourself against his negativity, and be prepared to counter with positivity.

Put His Strengths To Work

In doubt about what you should do? Worried you are overlooking some land mines? Run it by the ‘Dr. Doom’ on your team. He will arm you with the best and worst case scenarios. Knowing both, you can plan accordingly.

While this controversial thinker is capable of dampening the mood in a room, he is a hidden asset on any team. You can’t necessarily change his negative mindset, but you can decide to hear with an open mind and influence him to work in a way that is best for everyone.

Keys To Success In Recognizing a Pessimistic Thinker:

Possible Strengths vs. Possible Weaknesses

Eliminates unrealistic expectations – Hurts morale

Identifies risks and trouble spots – Focuses solely on problems

Serves as a “filter” for good and bad ideas – Shoots down ideas, slowing creativity

Convinces others easily – Provokes negativity in others

Helps avoid rework – Avoids collaboration

Creates bulletproof solutions – Rejects innovation and imagination

Sees the big picture – Sees only the worst-case scenario


© Jennifer Whitt, Inc 2011. All rights reserved worldwide.

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