“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.” — Mahatma Gandi
Guard well the entrance to your mind; carefully screen what you allow to impact you. Do not let anyone’s foul mood or negative outlook needlessly pollute your mind or bring down your day. Do your best to avoid negative people, those who frame everything and anything in a downbeat way. This includes not just choice of topic or specific words, but other methods of non-verbal communication such as tone, volume, pacing, body language, and general energy level. Try to frame things as proactively, as positively, as solution-oriented as possible.
“Do not let anyone walk through your mind with dirty feet,” and do your best not to track mud into the minds and moods of others!
Beginning a conversation with such phrases as “You are not going to like this, but…” or “This will put you in a bad mood…” or “Not to ruin your day, but…”
Instead, consider “I’ve got something interesting here…” or “I’ve got a challenge I’d like to share…” or “Boy, have I got a growth opportunity” or “Got something special here, boss.”
Some people may consider the difference trivial or superficial, but I assure you positive framing does make a difference even if we often are not self aware enough to detect it every time. Just as people who have had a drink may think they are still great drivers, we often are not the best judges of our own performance. Study after study has shown that small things cumulatively have significant impacts on our judgment, actions, and performance. Experiments have shown that people who were given a series of downbeat words to read before reading bios and conducting interviews consistently reported more negative evaluations than people given neutral or upbeat words. People given a hot drink during cold weather consistently reported better evaluation results than those given a cold drink.
So make a habit of continually updating your mental anti-virus software. Make a point of increasing your personal awareness of the impact of language and the frames of others have on your reactions, evaluations, and perceptions. Moods are like colds, they are contagious. Be careful who you choose to associate with; it is hard to learn how to fly like an eagle when you are hanging out with the mockingbirds!
PS: Avoid “pinning people to the wall with questions”: firing a series of questions at them without giving them a chance to respond. It tends to put people on the defensive if you have a habit of loosing your second question before they have even begun to respond to the first.