You’re sitting at home watching TV with your family and your show goes to a commercial break. It’s local election season, and commercial breaks have been littered with political ads and campaigns. You’ve been seeing them for weeks, and election day is finally tomorrow!
A negative advertisement begins to play about Candidate A. That’s no good! The next commercial starts to play, and it’s a negative campaign ad for Candidate C! That’s no good either.
The next day at the voting booth, you stare down at your ballot, considering your options. You call to mind those negative things you heard about Candidates A and C. You think, maybe I’ll go with Candidate B. Candidates A and C seemed like terrible candidates in those ads!
But wait! You’ve been seeing campaign ads for weeks. Surely you’ve seen plenty of positive ads for Candidates A and C as well! So why didn’t those good things come to mind when you were in the voting booth?
Research suggest it’s human nature to place greater significance on negatives over positives. In doing so, we fall victim to Negativity bias! Yes, we have a tendency to pay more attention to the not-so-good details over the good details. The result? Sometimes we forget to notice and enjoy the positives.
Let’s check out how Negativity bias can affect us in the workplace.
Your weekly team meeting has just kicked off with a numbers report. On the whole, things are going pretty well! Sales grew by 4% over the last 2 weeks! Next on the agenda, your team member reports that the new product you’ve been pushing is a huge flop. You can’t believe it! You and your team spent weeks working on the best way to launch this product. Was the pricing strategy off? What went wrong?
You spend the rest of your meeting fixated on the failed product, and completely omit sales growth from your mind. You find yourself obsessing over the negatives.
Has this ever been you?
Bias isn’t always black or white -- good or bad. In this scenario, it’s important to assess how Negativity bias may be impacting the positives in your life. Remember, becoming downtrodden by the bad side of things isn’t necessarily going to positively impact productivity.
In some situations, bias is a useful tool. It can boost efficiency and help us to make quick decisions when we need to. But when it bogs us down with the bad, it causes us to fail to consider all available options, or make a judgement based on stereotypes, it’s time to break down that bias!
Keep practicing mindful engagement.
And remember, be more curious!