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How Negativitaurs Destroy Companies

How Negativitaurs Destroy Companies

You may not have heard of this form of human toxin, but you have certainly experienced them, and seen the damage they do across the globe. You have definitely suffered at their hands. To understand how negativitaurs destroy organisations, and the chances are that one or more of them are destroying your company as you read this, we must first understand what a negativitaur is and how they operate.

What is a Negativitaur?

Negativitaur: Emerging word coined by Nigel MacLennan. Noun. Nega-tivi-taur. Derived from negate, negative, negativity. Named in the style of Greek mythical bull-like creatures capable of causing huge damage. Someone who is so toxically negative that s/he destroys and/or prevents all the good around him/her.

While a brief definition may help, even more useful is an understanding of the defining characteristics and habitual behaviours. As with most behavioural classifications, it is necessary for a person to exhibit several of the positive indicators to be classifiable as a negativitaur.

A Negativitaur is someone who

  1. Is skilled in the art of turning every dream into a nightmare
  2. Takes joy in converting dreams in to disasters
  3. Is toxic to all known forms of achievement
  4. Feels satisfaction in bringing others down to their level of negativity
  5. Thrills at re-framing achievement as luck
  6. Fears failure so much that s/he wishes never to be exposed to it
  7. Uses extreme pessimism to stifle any and all attempts at progress
  8. Loathes effort so much that s/he can always find a negative reason to avoid any and all effort
  9. Hates people so much that s/he enjoys making the world a bleaker place for as many people as possible
  10. Is so wedded to their own inadequacy that they use extreme negativity to prevent others from challenging any world view that demonstrates that better is possible
  11. Hates enthusiasm, except when it is applied to extreme pessimism and destruction of other people’s ideas for improvement
  12. Turns every positive in to a negative, every compliment in to disguised insult, every smile in to a sneer
  13. For every solution, can find dozens of problems, most of which have no validity
  14. Can quickly turn bright-eyed optimists in to hollow-eyed pessimists
  15. Resists progress, and is utterly unaware that the 21st century life they lead is built on innumerable  acts of progress (everyone one of which the negativitaur would have tried to kill, given the opportunity)
  16. Saps energy and morale from all those in contact with him or her, with one exception: other negativitaurs
  17. Thrives in the presence of other negativitaurs
  18. Is more likely to develop mental health problems of a paranoid pessimistic, depressive or suicidal nature
  19. Causes mental health problems in those around him/her
  20. Can find fault in everything and everyone with no analysis or preparation required
  21. Everyone is to blame for the problems of the world but them
  22. Even when confronted with the damage they are doing to others they deny that truth and persist

Negativitaurs have existed throughout history and have been the key suspect, known associate and have been present at the scene of  the murder of innumerable world improving opportunities.

Negativitaurs stiffle innovation, strangle potential advances, and happily crush all optimists they contact. They were, for example, the lawyers who sought to defend slavery, and imposed the death sentence for starving people stealing a loaf of bread. They were the people who happily sought to block all of Steve Jobs’ brilliant inventions, and Florence Nightingale’s health care advances, those who tried to strangle the NHS at birth, and… the list is infinite.

Spotting Negativitaurs

From the list of behaviours above, it must be very clear how negativitaurs destroy organisations. Morale is diminished, productivity is impaired, innovation is killed, discretionary effort is withheld… all of which cost, dearly! To do something about the problem you need to be able to spot negativitaurs.

Many negativitaurs are easy to spot. They are the ones who can be easily identified. You probably have a short list in your mind already.

Some negativitaurs are more machiavellian;  harder to spot. They know that if they are too obviously obstructive that they will be removed from post. Better in their mind to work covertly, at least when in the public eye or under scrutiny. Undermining morale is a fine art, better practiced indirectly. The bright young thing is told: “The last person who tried to improve that isn’t here anymore. Still unemployed as far as I know. Problems getting a reference, you know.”

Others will set up meetings between parties, having briefed the participants against each other, and will then steer the meeting on to explosive topics and sit back while their negativitaurian work is done for them.

The hardest to spot negativitaurs operate by tone and body language. A drop in emotional tone every time an idea for improvement is suggested. Eyes opened wide with a soft bite of the lower lip after asking: “Whose idea was that?”

Differentiating Negativitaurs

When negativitaurs are operating covertly, how can you separate them from someone who has identified a genuine problem, one that has to be solved before an approach can be successful?

A negativitaur is different from the constructive problem-identifier-solver in that, the constructive problem-identifier-solver’s habitual approach is: “I think we may have a problem with this, and here is how I think we can solve that problem.”

People with reasonable concerns are sometimes mistaken as negativitaurs, and vice versa. For example, if you saw this as a corporate vision, what would be your response? “To provide shareholders with a 5% ROI.”

A constructive problem-identifier-solver would point out: “Over the long-haul the stock market increases by an average of 7% per year and that the ‘vision’ was sending the signal that the plan was to under-perform the stock market, and, that an inspiring vision is required. Here is one to get our thinking started…”

Such a person actually saved an international British company from itself. The doomed and damaging vision was abandoned.

A negativitaur would dismiss the idea of having any vision, “Visions destroy companies! Especially one as bad as that.” And would offer no solution, and when you tried to move the discussion towards finding a solution, the negatitivaur would tell you why no solution is possible. Here is the acid test of differentiation: the constructive problem-identifier-solver always offers a solution or a way of finding one, the negativitaur never does, and seeks to block any attempts at finding a solution.

However, the more politically skilled negativitaurs will recommend a non-solution that looks like a solution.

You’ve seen it so many times: the kick into the long grass, the exploratory committee, the evaluation by an external consultant – who will be, of course, commissioned by the negativitaur, having written terms of reference to ensure the desired non-outcome – all of which give plenty of opportunity for multiple forms of plan-icide.

Advice for Leaders

If you want to be a high achiever, a leader who gets great results, here is some advice on dealing with negativitaurs.

Get them out of your mind, out of your life, and out of your organisation, as soon as possible! They are toxic to all known forms of achievement, morale and happiness.

I hope that was clear and unequivocal.

Caution: that does not mean surround yourself with ‘yes people.’ They are just as dangerous to achievement for other reasons. Make sure you have some people who are able to see the problems in any planned course of action AND, (and this a big and), immediately offer solutions to the legitimate problem they have seen.

You must have such people in your team. MUST! Great leaders will pay almost anything to have those powerful constructive problem-identifier-solvers on their team, and will do almost anything to remove negativitaurs.

Second Caution: when your pet idea requires modification by the constructive problem-identifier-solver your may be tempted to view them as negativitaurs. If they are suggesting solutions to identified problems, and have a track record of the same, then what might be happening is that your ego is wedded to your idea. We all know how easy it is to make misjudgments when our egos are involved.

Of course, you may be right about your idea, it may work without any modification, but do not confuse that with labeling a long-term helpful ally who is a proven constructive problem-identifier-solver as a negativitaur.

You cannot afford to lose your constructive problem-identifier-solvers. You cannot afford to keep the negativitaurs.

Dr Nigel MacLennan specialises in enhancing leadership performance. If you wish to achieve better results, on a guaranteed outcomes basis, contact Nigel here.

Prof Nigel MacLennan

Copyright Dr Nigel MacLennan 2016

‘How Negativitaurs Destroy Companies’ was written to raise awareness in leaders, to help CEOs prevent damaged people from damaging their companies. If you are affected by the contents of this article, or think you may be a negativitaur, get professional help as soon as possible. Negativitaurs can be helped to take a positive and constructive view of the world. See www.drnigelmaclennan.uk