She left the meeting under the impression that she’d been fired or was about to be fired. “How badly could it have gone?” I asked. “What did you do or say at a ‘meet-and-greet’ that would cause them to even think of firing you?” I questioned her, completely confused by such an unexpected turn of events.
“Well, it’s not so much that anything bad happened, per se,” she said. Seeing my confusion, my friend went on to explain that it had more to do with the fact that the head of the company wanted to speak to the other employees without this young woman (the newest hire) present. I was at a loss to explain this. Not so much that I thought her read on the situation was correct, but more about why this train of thought had entered her consciousness.
I continued to think and ponder when she explained to me the next day that she had been contacted by the head of the company. The furtive conversation my friend so clearly thought was her termination? Nope. They were discussing ways of increasing her hours to the point of bringing her on full-time.
I was left wondering: what would possess this very intelligent, articulate, personable young woman to automatically assume the worst. It turns out humans are born with a cognitive bias towards negativity. Simply said, it means we are prewired to more easily think negatively and stay focused on it. Initially, in an evolutionary sense, this was a good thing. It kept early man more aware of dangers, thus increasing the likelihood of a longer life. But the days of a saber-toothed tiger making us his snack are over. Shouldn't we work on losing this Darwinian trait?
There are still dangers out in the world; I’m not suggesting life is all sunshine and puppydog tails, but maybe we should be more aware of our tendencies. This is a constant struggle for me. I’m not talking from a place of superiority. You will not hear me saying, “Well, I USED to be that way…” Nope. Every day presents a new opportunity to be better, look at the bright side, at the possibilities instead of the inevitabilities, the chance for a promotion instead of a pink slip. And when we see friends and loved ones locked in, and maybe losing, a battle of positive versus negative, maybe we should take a moment and remind them of all the goodness we see in them.