By Randy Snyder

Over the last year and a half, I have enjoyed writing about Paying it Forward and the positive aspects of that concept and the well-deserved recognition given to prime examples. Since my last Breeze article highlighting how we can all “pay it forward,” I have done some thinking of the best progression of the plaudits passed out to organizations and individuals and their accomplishments which were indicative of that theme. The catalyst was people seeking the positive, doing more than was expected of them in their respective positions. Most of us believe we’re all connected. We must believe in positive energy and what it can do for ourselves and others.

We cannot eliminate the negatives in our lives. However, we can all do a better job of accentuating the positives. Always apply the axiom of “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” when it is necessary to deliver a negative or corrective comment. As a manager in public life, I used a method when necessary to correct a situation or complain about a problem which I coined ‘the sandwich method’. The method simply required hesitating before verbalizing the negative and saying something positive first, followed by the corrective or necessary negative then ending with a positive. In other words, issue a compliment first, followed with the negative at hand and then finish with another positive or the positive result of the correction. It is a fault of human nature to complain and not offer a corrective solution. Never point out a problem unless you can offer a solution. The other thing to remember is not to attack the person, but refer to the behavior or action that was offensive.

When pointing out a negative, make certain whether the person you are correcting is the decision maker, i.e. manager, or supervisor and is simply “doing his or her their job.” It is important to find the right person who can positively make the change to correct the situation. Use the approach of, “would I want to hear this complaint if I was in their position,” again following up with a solution and a positive to establish the right mindset for the conversation.

Always take into consideration the best way to make certain that positives (or negatives) are best spoken or written and possibly both spoken and written. In some cases it may be best to put the positive in writing giving it a lasting effect on the other party, and in the case of an employee situation, it would end up in their personnel file. Negative situations should not be voiced when there are other parties within earshot. Your goal is to advise and not to embarrass the party who has offended. When a positive or negative is in regards to an action that needs praising or correcting, use the “COTS” method (correction or compliment on the spot), again remembering the audience in earshot does not necessarily need to hear and know.

In closing, there is little difference in people, but that little difference can make a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative. Maintaining a positive attitude in all situations with all people no matter what the circumstances will affect your surroundings, your family and all those you come in touch with daily. When you wake up each day, the choice is yours, be an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. How about you?