How negative preconceptions influence your project management

Are you more the type to focus on positive thoughts or do you tend to always highlight and think through negative aspects? Destructive thoughts and negative prejudices can poison entire projects. So it's worth taking a look. The term "negativity bias" is used in psychology, it is a phenomenon of the human psyche that gives more weight to bad experiences and thus more attention than to good ones. This is due to the fact that negative emotions have almost three times more influence on our psyche than positive ones. Jennifer Bridges, project manager reports on this in an article on Below we summarize her article for you.
A piece of paper says "I can't do it", which is trimmed by scissors to "I can do it"

Negative thoughts spread

How can negative thinking affect your project? Your project is based on planning that always needs to be adjusted as you react to the unexpected. Things that go wrong cloud your internal data analysis and make you more likely to assume things will go wrong in the future. One team member who has a negative attitude can cause the entire team to doubt. Bad news travels faster than good news. So how can you regain balance and let optimism triumph over pessimism again? Surely you've heard that prophecies are self-fulfilling. This happens in the negative as well as the positive. This is not necessarily meant in the esoteric sense, i.e. that you wish for positive results and then they miraculously happen - but especially in project management, where you make the plan and then act on it, and where success is often based on the cooperation of people from different areas of expertise, it is here that positive relationships, positive conversations, motivated employees and teams pulling together with enthusiasm can make all the difference and actually turn the project around through a positive attitude.

Optimistic about the future

Jennifer Bridges offers a few tips for looking ahead with more optimism. She advises to consciously surround yourself with positive people. Especially if it's you who tends to let negative thoughts get the better of you, you need someone on your team to spread optimism. Even though positive thoughts around you won't drive away your negative ones, they will help tremendously in maintaining balance and not losing sight of the fact that there is positivity. Little things can help as well: listen to happy music, watch movies with a positive mood and optimistic message, try to enjoy something more often, a walk or a meal. In (almost) every situation you can see good and bad. Look for the good, even if it doesn't undo setbacks. It does, however, put them into perspective and give you the opportunity to look to the future with optimism. Jennifer Bridges believes that focusing on a successful end to your project actually makes an impact.

Don't lose control

Try to always stay in control of your perceptions. Be aware of the destructive impact negative thoughts can have, and be very specific in your approach to people who, in turn, spread negativity and take away everyone else's motivation. A good strategy is to get these complainers to act so that they stop complaining. Keep reminding everyone how a project ended successfully back in the day, instead of bringing up memories of mistakes and failures. Celebrate successes as a team and don't specifically mention failures. Of course, you should try to learn from your mistakes and not make them again. But even that is basically a positive approach: next time we'll do it this way and that way and then things will change for the better. Talk about strategies for success. Discuss best practices examples as a team. Organize motivational outings or activities, which will increase team productivity and improve morale. This is true even and especially if it is you who is prone to negative thinking. A motivated and positive team can rub off on you if you let it.

Responding to crises

In times of crisis, it's especially hard to keep a positive attitude and realize that not everything is going badly. Here, it helps to hold a crisis meeting and tell everyone crystal clear that a project is in crisis. Make a conscious decision with the whole team: what are the chances that we can still turn the project around and bring it to a positive conclusion? Are there chances and do we believe in them - then let's tackle it and develop strategies. If the situation is messed up and there are no chances - then let's end the project and start a new one. To solve problems, try to look at as many perspectives as possible and identify and consciously address causes of problems. Only those who have the will to change will be able to turn a project around and approach it again with a good mood and an optimistic focus. A completely new approach can bring back the positive attitude because it is then easier to leave behind the negative experiences from previous project steps.
Autorin: IAPM internal 

Key words: Project management, Team, Psychology, Guide, Tips

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