In a world that celebrates positivity and happiness, there’s no greater human defect than negativity. But over the years I have witnessed the power of The Dark Side and even begun to respect it a little.

I’ve discovered that to label all ‘less-than-positive’ people as ‘negative’ is to miss the subtle differences between individuals who often have important reasons for withholding their enthusiasm.

Take the Skeptic, my personal favourite. If I could encapsulate the skeptical worldview it would be something like this: ‘I’ll believe it when you prove it.’ Skeptics are invaluable sounding boards for testing and developing ideas; team one up with an idealist and you get the perfect Dana Scully /Fox Mulder dynamic.

Not as helpful as the Skeptic, but still with something to offer is the Cynic, the mind that flatly refuses to accept good news: ‘Prove it to me and I still won’t believe you.’

Cynics are great at visualising the worst possible consequence of any idea, so if you can accept their advice (without sharing their despair) you’ll be able to disaster-proof any plan for things you never would have thought of yourself.

Then there’s the Blocker: ‘Your plan is doomed… I’ll make sure of it.’ This is your arch-enemy, so respect them as Sherlock Holmes did Professor Moriaty. Appreciate their skill and tenacity and try to see your plan through their eyes, it’ll keep you on your toes.

Last (and least) is the Defeatist: ‘Things never change, so give up.’ Usually completely wrong, pretty much all the time, defeatists show you what happens when people lose hope, and its not pretty.

But if you actively engage a Defeatist you can sometimes inspire them to become a Blocker. And if you invite a Blocker to do their worst it’s surprising how often they discover their inner Cynic, just as embracing a Cynic can can reveal a potential Skeptic.

That’s when you turn a negative… into a positive.

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.