Monday, April 18, 2011

Naysayers and (Cockeyed) Optimists - A-Z Challenge

I'm combining N & O because they complement each other.

I raised my children to always consider the source of information. Why? Because so many people will give an opinion, usually negative, whether they have knowledge about the subject, or not. Playing the devil's advocate beyond supportive evidence to the contrary can become pure mule-headedness. On the other hand, you don't want to be a cockeyed optimist, either.

Opinions are asked for to help clear up any potential problems. As an example, your friend has decided to build Fido a tree house in case of flooding or to keep his bones away from other dogs. It would be inconceivable to almost anyone that this would work -- but, not to your friend holding the tools! Someone (that's you) has to act as the devil's advocate. To protect the dog, if nothing else!

What d'ya think?
Using soft, low tones, one might ask:
  • Is the tree low enough for Fido to see his house at the top of the crossbars?
  • Will the crossbars be highly-polished so Fido doesn't get splinters in his paws?
  • Will the window frame be strong enough for the 5000 BTU a/c?
  • Where can you get Fido trained to raise and lower that food basket?

These questions could spark some clarity for your friend. If your friend blows holes through your points, explaining Fido's love of heights and limb napping and that he can raise and lower a basket of kittens, still, you continue to press your point, you could be a naysayer -- someone who takes a negative or pessimistic view of everything. Are you afraid of new ideas? Are you jealous because you didn't think of it? Understand your motives before you bring someone else down.

New ideas are fragile and need nurturing or they will die under too much negative feedback. The best resource for an honest opinion is from people familiar with your subject. They'll focus their thoughts on familiar results and know how to counter, and you'll be able to trust them. The less your critic knows about your subject, the less effective and the more personal the comments.
  • What makes you think you can do that?
  • Are you out of your mind?
  • What a STUPID idea!
  • Oh, no! Here we go, again! 
How do you respond to new ideas? Are you a naysayer? Are you a cockeyed optimist? It's not your job to tear someone else down simply because they asked for an opinion. Do you agree with everything they do, knowing they'll be humiliated, later? The old rule still holds true:

For every negative thing you say, you have to say three positive things. It's best to start with two positive things, slip in the negative, and end with a positive -- especially, if you're not an expert in the field.
  • You have one smart dog, there, friend.
  • Hey! This is a perfect location for Fido's tree house!
  • Uh, can Fido climb crossbars?
  • I love the paint color -- it's so Frank Lloyd Wright.

Believe me, there will be enough criticism when the project is ready for a more public display. Life is too short to get beaten down by people not willing to take chances, themselves, but who are so quick to judge others. As a friend or family member, try to be supportive and protective. The wolves are supposed to be outside the door. Try not to be just an automatic naysayer or Pollyanna. Playing the devil's advocate reveals potential problems in a project seen with new eyes. Letting someone go ahead with cockeyed optimism is cruel. Share your thoughts with love. After all, without new ideas, you'd be reading this on paper.

Success is 99 percent failure.  ---Soichiro Honda

Go for it. All you can do, is fail.  ---Sharlene Thomas


See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.


  1. A perfect post to describe most of my experiences with committees over the past 35 years. I think that negativity and hole-poking is more common than cautious support. Me? I'm probably a cock-eyed oprimist.
    Thanks for the visit. I'm in your followers now.

  2. I agree a perfect way to describe a delicate tell the truth, go against you upbringing and lie. or be piggy in the middle.
    Positive wins every time.


  3. i think it's really much better to be encouraging...who knows what great things may come out of it!

    thanks for visiting my "O" challenge and for following; followed both your blogs :)

  4. Fine play the Devil's Advocate beautifully.

  5. And all that "news" on the internet too right? ha! Thanx for stopping by for A to Z!
    Chris Verstraete
    In Miniature Style II - minis, how to's and more!