Why can a few negative voices make such a difference in an organization? It is really quite simple. People with negativity find each other, talk to one another and create bonds with each other around their unhappiness. Of course others are left out of the conversation but the negative voices reinforce themselves and it feels like they represent the majority. Usually they do not.
These alliances often create significant dysfunction. For instance, a negative staff member of an organization finds a receptive ear with a board member (going around the leader) and they start back channel discussions around their concerns. All of a sudden this board member has "information" (tainted as it may be) but none of the other board members are in on the conversation or can bring balance. The leader is also in an unfair place as he/she does not know where the negativity is coming from.
These alliances reflect poor EQ. We should be able to disagree with one another and stay connected rather than needing to connect over what we don't like. Relationships built on common enemies or "concerns" are not true relationships. They are simply alliances built around an issue. And when the issue is a negative one, the relationship gets it fuel from the negativity, never a healthy fuel.
What is interesting is that those involved often lose their ability to truly see reality. They assume that there are far more people who are in agreement with them than is actually the case. That is because negativity is reinforced by talking to others who agree with their position. Often in church conflicts this is the case. People will tell me that the vast majority of folks agree with them when in reality it is actually a few. But negativity feeds their reality until they don't see accurately.
When I hear common negative language or mistrust I assume that there are folks allied around a common issue. I do not assume that it reflects the majority opinion even though it is loud. These are times when it is important that those who don't agree speak up and not stay silent. Silence contributes to the negativity. Being self defined can change the equation. Don't get caught up with others where the relationship or common interest is a negative one. It is rarely healthy or productive.
All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence, are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.