Battle with cynicism
My apologies for using a picture here without crediting nor receiving permission from the author.
Cynicism is “deadly when it affects an organization.” So says Michael Hyatt in a must read on cynicism.
- A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)
- Cynicism focuses on unmasking positive appearances to reveal “underlying motivations of greed, power, lust and selfishness.” Dick Keyes
Hyatt says that there are three symptoms of cynicism
1. Distrust of others
“The cynic is unwilling to trust anyone else. . . the cynic is always suspicious. He always looks behind the apparent good for a negative cause. Consequently, he questions other people’s motives, competence, or experience—sometimes all three.”
2. Negative comments about others.
These are an “expression to their distrust. . . often whisper negative comments in meetings, usually under the guise of humor. . . people usually agree with the cynic and chuckle at the person or situation that is the object of the cynic’s ridicule. This is how the cancer spreads.”
3. Pessimism about the future.
“The hardened cynics can rarely be helped. They are committed to their cynicism as a way of life. Any attempt to help them only leads to more cynicism. They like their disease. The only cure is surgery. They must be removed from the organization, so that it can heal. The sooner you fire them the better. The soft cynics are a different story. They can get better with the right treatment.”
And three things that you can do:
- Live by your word. People need to know that they can trust you.
- Speak well of others. Purpose that you will not speak ill of someone unless you are talking to that person in a private conversation. If someone else speaks ill of someone in your presence, change the subject. Refuse to chuckle. Do not reward the behavior in any way. Ignore it, and it will eventually die. Acknowledge it—in any way—and it will persist.
- Look on the sunny side. , I am advocating fact-based optimism. If your confidence in the future is rooted in reality, you have a decent chance of infecting others with belief and trust.