Recently I had a conversation in which I was confronted by someone who was all about positivity. It quickly became awkward as we had planned an open conversation.
The desire to establish something positive stood in the way of sharing respective perceptions and experiencing them as heard. As was to be expected, there were areas in which we shared the perception of the situation but disagreed on the causes. Consequently, efforts to stay within something positive meant denying or suppressing details that didn’t seem positive enough. However, as was also to be expected, they emerged as the conversation continued.
The contrast between positivity and shared details created the gap in which behavior doesn’t match words. As little as these details might have been, they undermined trust in the ongoing conversation.
It’s a situation in which the desire to establish a positive culture fails. Less because of the conflict, than because of the desire to stay out of it or to get out of it as quickly as possible.
The displayed positivity then transforms itself into an effort to establish a norm that describes the expected behavior. Pushing forward with this approach and seeking to achieve resolution usually does one of two things. It either creates resistance or over-adaptation.
Whatever the outcome of such a conversation, commitment to a shared cause will remain at risk.