Be for things

It is easy to point out why things are wrong. It is easy to point out why someone or some policy is flawed. It is easy to make a list of reasons why you should not do something.

You only get to do this cynicism* if you can tell me one thing that you are in favour of.

The cynic wants to prove you wrong.

The sceptic wants to understand how you achieve your goal.

*Two Important Definitions

You must learn to distinguish people who are sceptics (positive) from people who are cynics (negative).

cynic  ˈsɪnɪk  noun
  1. 1.
    a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honourable or unselfish reasons.
    “some cynics thought that the controversy was all a publicity stunt”
sceptic  ˈskɛptɪk  noun
  1. 1.
    a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

8 comments

  1. […] don’t know your goal and you’re miserable: Ask a few friends (not the cynical ones) what they think you are good at and what they think you should work […]

  2. […] a few friends (not the cynical ones) what they think you are good at and what they think you should work […]

  3. A nice, pithy post. For me, the operative word is “why”. It is important but, as you note, too often it is used on the negative side of the equation (why it won’t work, why it’s not appropriate, etc.). “Why” becomes much more powerful and constructive when we move it to the positive side of the equation; i.e., reasons why something might be a good idea. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the negatives, but for them the focus should be on suggestions “how” something can be improved. In my presentation skills training courses, I always tell the participants that when they give feedback to their peers, it should be in the form of “reasons why” they liked something and “suggestions how” they would improve something.

    John

    1. I like that distinction – “why I liked” & “how to improve it”

  4. Larysa · · Reply

    Yes, we face cynicism everywhere: in social surroundings, in our homes, but the most – in our business environments.
    What I find interesting is that the blame goes rather for “what”, not as much as for “why”. If a business would focus on exploring the “why’s” including those cynical members in the team whining the most (generally, the middle/junior management), the result will be multi-fold! Ask them what would they change and how, and then make them to execute their own ideas – they love it! Praise and celebrate their contribution afterwards – it always pays off. Culture of empowerment and recognition of employees’ efforts goes a long way. Definitely, here in South Africa 🙂
    New democracy opened doors for previously disadvantaged citizens, they are “hungry” for learning, development and growth. If they are lucky to land a job in the company practicing a solid culture of recognition and continuous learning, they fly! OR they learn from cynics around them…
    So, get them included and involved in making the work life meaningful to all.

    1. True. I know that cynicism is often a response to an environment that feels “out of my control”. One big challenge for teachers, managers and leaders – is to create an environment in which taking action feels better than not taking action (and explaining in smart detail why everyone else is wrong) 😉

  5. Perfect said. Its easily visible that on various situations people {including myself} continue to do such cynicism e.g. for employers, for relatives , for friends.

    But over the time I have seen people {including myself} who realized those things and made the thought process to avoid cynicism.

    And I still see that 95% people are still same, their life is to do only cynicism, especially in most of the small cities in India { as I am Indian}, even various TV serials are made on those concepts e.g. Kyonki Saas Bhee Kabhee Bahu Thee { ever the mother in law was a daughter in law }, Kahan Ghar Ghar Ki { The story of every home}

    1. I guess cynicism gives a short term feeling of victory – of being smart… but over the long term it only leads to apathy.

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