Can a negative attitude make or break a community? It is always interesting talking to people when they move to a new community. Does negativity itch, get scratched, become infected, and break open and spread to an entire community?
I was feeling the negativity recently in conversations with different groups of people. Some outsiders, you know, those who move into a small community but never fit in because — gasp — they aren’t from here, remarked that it was hard living in a community always being reminded they couldn’t do something a new way because it has always been done a certain way and they wouldn’t understand because they aren’t from here.
Another group was complaining about businesses and business owners and things not being the way they thought they should be, so they would never support the business again and they would tell everyone about it.
Another conversation was with business owners. They told the opposite tale of nothing ever being right no matter how hard they tried. And admitting they weren’t always cordial to their customers because it was hard keeping the smile on their face day in and day out in the face of such negativity.
As a former business owner, as a customer and as a person who moved to a smaller and new community for a short time, I could identify with the feelings of all of these groups. I have been the crabby customer, I have been the crabby business owner and I have felt like the outsider. I must say all of these situations fed the negativity in me, the negativity that resides in all of us, and festers if it is fed by our contact with each other.
Here’s a little tip, not everything that is said is entirely accurate all the time so as Mr. Negativity is fed, it grows sometimes with untruths and explodes. Pretty soon we all jump on the bandwagon and join in because we want to fit in to the conversation.
There is a saying in business that the customer is always right, but I don’t know if I agree with that premise in the world we live in today. My reasoning comes from a phone call I received when I was in business. The phone call actually wasn’t for my business, it was a wrong number but when I picked up the phone the language and screaming coming out of the other end was not for the faint of heart. I asked who they were calling and they named the business. I told them who they had reached, and they profusely apologized and hung up. The phone rang again, it was the same caller, and they apologized again for their language and their rudeness as it was to be directed at another business. My thoughts were why apologize if they were going to call the other business and repeat the mistake message I had heard. No business owner deserves to be treated to verbal abuse.
They say it takes 10 compliments to cancel out an insult. As an author, I get reviews on my books and most of my reviews are positive but it is the one negative that I always remember and the same can be said for things said in our communities.
Bullying wasn’t a big factor for me when I was growing up. I can only remember two instances in my middle school and teen years when it happened to me. The key is I remember those instances, the negativity directed towards me, more than I remember some of the positive complements or experiences during those years. And I remember who directed those attacks. The memories of those people’s actions have lived on for more than 45 years.
The best way to keep our communities from growing — the best way to close our businesses — is to not support them by our words, what we say and by how we treat those who are new, those who choose to run their businesses and those who chose to shop and visit our businesses in our communities.
Choose to help our communities and our businesses grow by planting seeds of encouragement and positivity instead of feeding the weeds of negativity shutting down anything positive that is trying to peek up between those weeds. The choice is ours. Our communities health may depend on it