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EVERY OFFICE has a person
I'm talking about the patrons of positivity, the bright-siders, the people who see every glass as half full and every mistake as an "error-portunity."
You don't have to be like me--
A recent note from a reader makes a good argument that they are. It described a boss who is an aphorism-spouting optimism addict. His insistence on putting a positive spin on everything has workers afraid to express their concerns or frustrations, unclear on where they stand with the boss and distrustful of each other.
"I'm baffled and annoyed by his rosiness," the reader wrote.
Barbara Ehrenreich understands this. She wrote a book called "Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America," a searing takedown of the "think positive"-ization of America. She writes that most Americans were introduced to the concept of achievement-through-optimism by Norman Vincent Peale's 1952 book "The Power of Positive Thinking."
Ehrenreich wrote: "Norman Vincent Peale grasped this as well as anyone: the work of Americans, and especially of its ever-growing white-collar proletariat, is in no small part work that is performed on the self in order to make that self more acceptable and even likable to employers, clients, co-workers and potential customers. Positive thinking had ceased to be just a balm for the anxious or a cure for the psychosomatically distressed. It was beginning to be an obligation imposed on all American adults."
And here I wanted to blame it all on motivational posters that say things such as "Actualize Your Inner Eagle"!
But they are simply part of the think-positive, self-help industry that has left us with people who think they can manage real workplace problems with little more than platitudes. This is, to put it kindly, dumb.