#70: Encourage your pet pessimist

Do you have a pet pessimist at work? Good. Every organization should have at least one.

Pessimists matter. They enhance your decision making and protect your success by balancing overconfident optimists.

As always, there is a price to pay. Pessimists take more effort to manage and they exhaust everybody on your team with their negativity.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s what I suggest.

Take your pet pessimist aside. Tell him, or her, that you’ve noticed how, sometimes, the quality of decisions improves when he puts on his unhappy face. Now ask for his help.

Explain that what you really need is a fully functioning devil’s advocate, not just an unhappy face.

What you want is someone who knows the art of releasing hot air without pricking the balloon. This is a skill, not a dysfunction.

Pessimists thrive on dysfunction, so don’t feed the dysfunction by talking about it. Instead, encourage and reward the skill.

Good luck. (You will need it.)

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.