We live in a world dominated by optimists. Human nature is like that. In Spain, for example, at the end of 2020, the Business Confidence Index grew by 10.5%. The Spanish are the second happiest in Europe, behind the Finns. In the world, optimists reach 43%, compared to 24% who consider themselves pessimistic. Curiously, Europeans are the least happy on the planet, while Indian citizens declare themselves the happiest, followed by Latin Americans (61%). So says the latest 2020 study by Gallup International.
Being optimistic is fine, but HR departments should take care of having a not-so-optimistic percentage of workers. It is true that the pessimist tends to exaggerate problems, that he sees non-existent threats and that he does not enjoy what he has to think about what he could not have. But it is also true that it has its positive side, and thanks to pessimists, some risks can be better detected.
This was one of my learnings from a simple conversation on a break with one of the attendees at MasterMind Latino in Miami, something I hadn’t noticed. This human resources expert highlighted that pessimism is a thinking bias with a recurring tendency to interpret reality in a negative way and make unfavorable forecasts and that only when it is in excess, it becomes of little use for the team and the company. That corridor reflection, which seemed to be inconsequential, made me realize:
Everything is going to be good … or bad. That optimism allows us to relax, trust that our expectations will be met. But great complacency often leads to inaction. Many optimists hope that things will run their course without doing anything, because they know that the world will turn every day. However, the pessimist can see dire omens and gloomy predictions that lead him to mobilize to avoid what he fears. In other words, they may be the best person to anticipate, provide ideas and solutions. Let’s find the balance, all are necessary.
A glass that is half empty is the same as one that is half full. The pessimist is not wrong. He is as right in his vision as the optimist. That is why neither one nor the other should try to impose their criteria. Companies will do well to have both working together, without trying to change their beliefs, because confronting opposing views increases the chances of success.
Each one in his role. Being what they call the lifeblood of all parties, making others laugh, taking the applause… it may seem like the most attractive thing in the world. But in the movie of life, a protagonist is not enough. Many other actors are needed, with supporting roles, supporting roles, extras, and also directors, screenwriters, makeup artists, conductors … Companies must try to be a reflection of the society they serve: women and men, of different ages, different characteristics ethnic, different beliefs and tolerant, optimistic and pessimistic.
Let’s not reject pessimists, because they may be more productive and far better prepared for setbacks than those who do not share their bias.