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negative bias

Negative Bias, Is It Limiting You?

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Positive versus negative, we hear about it all the time. People flock to social media for positive vibes, or spend time posting about their negative experiences. It is not just on social media. It is at your water cooler meeting, in your phone calls, and what you share with your friends and family. Is negative bias limiting you?

I have certainly done it. Proclaim that I am being positive but what I’m really sharing is negative. In fact, so much so, that I insist I’m not being negative. Often, from my point of view, I’m trying to be helpful, but what I speak is not necessarily so positive.

Negative Bias

Do you have a negative bias? Recently one of my brilliant good friends and I tossed this stuff around for discussion for nearly an hour. It seems simple, but you have to dig deep within yourself to have it hit home.

Here are a few short case studies.

  1. Someone proclaims they have been searching tirelessly for a new job. He or she states that they are being positive regarding their search. What do they talk about? All of the reasons why someone won’t hire them, how they are being discriminated against, and how it is just not fair.
  2. Another person proclaims they start their day on a high note, but quickly weather conditions, the work commute, or the people they work with ruin their good mood. Much of their morning talk is about how someone else is ruining their day. However, they also say, “but I’m staying positive.”
  3. Still another person claims that they are very focused on selling but they can’t achieve their goals. They repetitively state that the goal is lofty, the economy is off, and that the competition has a better marketing and advertising campaign. Yet they insist they are putting their head down and being positive.

In all three of these cases, the person is being effected by negative energy. They have a negative bias. Which also sets them up for confirmation bias, but that is another story.

Seeing Negative

Here is how this breaks down, it is simple, but sometimes hard to see at first.

  1. The new job seeker isn’t focused on finding the job, he or she is focused on why they won’t get one.
  2. The high note day starter is not looking for all the great things that surround them, he or she is looking for who is going to ruin their day. They believe it is coming, so they are watching for it, and find it.
  3. In the third case, the sales person is not focused on more sales, he or she is focused on why they aren’t getting enough.

Positivity is not something you say. It is something that you do and say. What you say is what you think and it will strongly condition your outcomes.

Positivity Test

Do you believe you are a positive person who is focused on the positive? Do you have a negative bias? There is a pretty simple test that you can give yourself.

Do you feel stressed or have high anxiety? Game over, you are likely living, at least at the moment, with a negative bias.

No matter how much you tell yourself you are positive, your mind is seeing (feeling) negative. You expect it to happen. It is all you see and it is what you find.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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