Fake that smile

This whole “Be Positive” crap is just totally irritating:

I realize I may be alone in this sentiment, but it completely cracks me up when people in authority start lecturing their subordinates about being positive. It’s always in a meeting where the bosses will go on and on making their point about how crucial it is to be positive, i.e. agree with them. Usually these sessions are accompanied with small group activities where people are called on to come up with positive solutions to a certain set of problems, kind of like going to “centers” in kindergarten.

Often this is accompanied by exhortations to “think outside the box,” to which you dare not come back with “Exactly what box is this we’re supposed to be thinking outside of?” (Actually, I’d be more likely to say “Exactly what box is this outside of which we’re supposed to be thinking?” Not that the results would be any better, but it adds Smug Points, which I value greatly in these circumstances.)

Besides, no one is really listening anyway:

The reason I pretty much tune it out is because, one, it’s pretty darn condescending when you get down to it, and I don’t like being talked down to. There is an underlying assumption that we are not positive people to begin with, and that we need to be force fed this tripe. Be happy, I get it, no one wants to be around a big grumpus all the time. I understand, but don’t try to get into my head, it’s nobody’s business what goes on in there, except for myself and the 6 people on the internet who read this blog.

The last person who accused me of being negative was told, “No, I’m not. No, no, no, NO.”


  1. McGehee »

    3 February 2009 · 7:57 am

    “We’re doomed!”

    “Think positive.”

    “I’m positive we’re doomed!”

  2. fillyjonk »

    3 February 2009 · 8:24 am

    Once again: I am glad I am in academia.

    Most of my colleagues’ response to being exhorted in a mass-meeting to “be positive” would be to lean over to me, whisper something REALLY snarky in my ear, and make both of us laugh or at least smile, thus at least fulfilling the letter of the law.

    Seriously. This is like those people who tell you to “smile.” I HATE that.

    Oh, and I read in some article the other day that “Thinking outside the box” is stupid because actually 90% of what is “outside the box” is “outside the box” because it’s crap. (You can make your own cat-litter joke there.)

  3. fillyjonk »

    3 February 2009 · 9:24 am

    “The last person who accused me of being negative was told, “No, I’m not. No, no, no, NO.””

    On the other hand, if someone said that to me (that I was being negative), I’d probably break into a big chipper smile and say, “Why yes, you are absolutely right, I am.”

  4. Francis W. Porretto »

    3 February 2009 · 3:04 pm

    Reminds me of my favorite bit of office humor: in 72-point German Blackscript:


    There’s clarity for you. Positivity, too.

  5. Tatyana »

    3 February 2009 · 6:11 pm

    Francis, this will work only with employers who used to go to Catholic school. Spectres of nuns with the swaying ruler…

    FJ: it’s worse when your own colleagues turn on you, scoring “positivity points” with the management. Say, one minute both of you were cursing the Consultants who were holding on the project, 2 days before your deadline – and still no word on their approval; and the next, when the manager was approaching in clear view, that same colleague sudenly starting to lecture you on importance to stay positive and respect the Consultants’ pace of work…

  6. That Broad »

    8 February 2009 · 11:00 pm

    Hehe I can’t help it, this whole be positive thing is so abused. It’s become an empty slogan, when in fact, there are times where an encouraging positive word from someone could make a difference to another person, but it loses benefit when it’s used to bludgeon people into complete and total submission.

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