Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who Cares if I am Pollyanna!?

Dear Royal Subjects -

Wikipedia says that the Pollyanna principle is the unconscious bias towards the positive.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, in a meeting the other day when we were reviewing as a group the book "The Speed of Trust" I made was turned out to be a decidedly positive comment.  The comment was meant with outright hostility.  Why would a comment that is positive generate hostility might be your first question?  Well, it wasn't mine.  You see, I got instantly defensive.  I was even angry.  My face started to flush, I got really mad and I wanted to physically lash out.  Now at the time that made total sense to me.  However, after really thinking about it, I had to ask myself why was I angry?  Why did someone telling me I was a positive person make me mad?  That seems just stupid now doesn't it?

Well, the reason I think is because I am in software engineering.  Engineering folks are supposed to be logical.  We are supposed to be realistic.  I have spent the better part of 20 years trying to prove that I am not a soft female, that I am not caring, that I am not naive, that I am not a push over.  I have been trying to prove for years that I am something that I am not.  In fact, it has come to the point that one of my better skill sets is that I can be such am amazing realist.  But why?  I am not a realist.  I am an optimist.  I do trust people.  I can be naive.  I do want to look through rose colored glasses and think FIRST that people are good and let them prove otherwise.  Why then do I fight it so much?  It seems somehow that the badge of a grown-up person is that you have to become cynical.  You are considered childlike or infantile if you haven't learned how NOT to trust anyone.  Well, as of today - I say POOP on that!

I am going back to being me.  I am a Pollyanna.  I am an optimist.  I can be a realist and an optimist, they are not mutually exclusive.  I do not have anything left to prove.  I should never have tried to prove anything in the first place.  So, what does all this thought have to do with you?  Well, when you really get defensive next time someone says something, try to figure out why.  Chances are you began defensive because there is truth to the comment.  Now I am NOT saying that means you should change or that you should do what I plan to do and revert back to some of your instinctual roots - that is not always healthy.  However, maybe you will not be so hostile, or mad at the person.  Maybe they are actually doing you a favor.  Oh, and I directly confronted this person, not in a conflict type of way but I asked what they meant and why they said it.  That is a really scary thing to do when you are that angry.  Turned out to be  good thing.  So, what else am I suggesting to you?  Cool down, and find out what was behind the comment.  I found it taught me something new about me.

Till next time -
Queen J


  1. You are so right - again! Too often we (read, I) get defensive because of that pin prick of truth that we'd rather not face up to.
    Tough lesson, but oh, so valuable!

  2. I think that identifying that optimism and realism are not mutually exclusive is the most profound statement I have read this year. This should be required reading for ... well, EVERYONE!

    Secondly, and entirely unrelatedly, I have sent you a bag of virtual school supplies! Nope, not spammin’ you – come on over and check out this great way to help kids:

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