Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Positive Side of Being Negative

Occasionally I'll hear, usually second-hand, that I'm considered a negative person.

I admit, I don't have the happiest face - I'm just not a smiley-face person. Fortunately, in the smile department, both kids took after their mother - they all have great smiles. I don't, and I suppose I do look grumpy a lot of the time, which is not necessarily reflective of my actual mood at the moment. My sister gave me a coffee mug for Christmas once that was labeled My Many Moods, which was covered with identical pictures of a grumpy cat, each one of which was supposed to indicate a different mood - confused, grumpy, content, happy, sad - the expression never varied. My family got the joke at once - I couldn't figure out why she'd given me a mug with cat pictures all over it, or why everybody was laughing. Then I got it.

And my kids' friends were often intimidated by me when they were younger, solely because I looked angry all the time (according to the kids). After helping my daughter move in Saskatoon once, one of her friends told her that he no longer was afraid of me, after we spent some time driving around, trying to figure out how to dispose of a wrecked couch, and coming up with all sorts of ludicrous alternatives before finally taking it to the landfill.

So if you're one of the people who thinks that I'm constantly miserable, just because of the expression on my face, stop to chat, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

And some people think that my tendency to question ideas that come to council, rather than just adding my voice to a chorus of praise, is being negative. Technically, I guess, sometimes they're right. Voting no is coming down on the negative side of a decision, something that many members of council appear to be reluctant to do, even though they might not agree with the decision in question. But if questions aren't asked, if nobody points out areas where improvements could be made, or highlights the potential downside of new initiatives, then how can we expect things to get better? Think of the problems that could have been avoided if enough members of council had asked the right questions at the right time, and voted accordingly.

I will admit that, with the current council, there don't appear to be many councillors who are willing to voice their concerns, and that does tend to make those of us who do so stand out from the rest. To be painted as being negative for doing so is unfortunate, but I'm comforted by being told by many residents that they think that I'm doing a good job, and they wish that more members of council would ask questions and demand believable answers, rather than just going along with the majority every time.

Perhaps of more of us did that, if it became the normal way of doing business, asking questions would no longer be considered being negative, but would be seen as what it is - a necessary step in a good, functional, decision-making process.

"A grouch escapes so many little annoyances that it almost pays to be one." Kin Hubbard

1 comment:

Cowak said...

While I may not agree with all your decisions, I do appreciate the service you do for my city.

I just want to say a thank you.