I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but for some reason I frequently start my writing with a negative tone. By negative, I mean I articulate what I’m against, not what I’m for.
Sample Negative Argument:
“Doesn’t it drive you nuts when consultants spend an entire presentation telling you how dumb the firms in your industry are? If they hate it so much, why do they even want to work with you? I’m going to walk out the next time someone starts off on another one of those doom and gloom rants.”
Do I believe what I wrote above? Yes. Does it make me feel better to unload every once and while? Maybe.
However, I have learned a trick which helps me to channel my initial negativity into an uplifting message. Here’s my secret.
Once I catch myself in the negative zone, I pull out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
On the left side, I write down all the things I’m against, or that I find wrong, silly, antiquated, or annoying. I let that initial surge of frustration out until I feel better. Then I move over to the right side.
On the right side, I write down the positive version of the negative arguments, looking for counter-examples, people who are exceptional, or outlying firms.
When I’m finished, I toss the left side and keep the right. That’s where I start my post, on positive footing.
I do the same for presentations. For example, I just presented our preliminary findings on the state of R&D in architecture and engineering firms to the A|E Advisors Annual CEO Forum last week.
Is it true that most AE firms aren’t investing in R&D programs? Yes. Is it fun to sit around a complain about it, wishing we were more like other industries? No. What’s fun is to find a bunch of firms who are kicking ass, point a spotlight on them, and encourage other folks to follow their lead.