18 Sep WHINER OR WORLDCHANGER – WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
There is no question that there is a lot of conflict, division, and pain in the world. I spend most of my time studying and addressing these various issues. As such, I come in contact with many different opinions and personalities. One of our ministry’s primary focuses deals with how we respond. In other words, while we are not slow to address specific issues, we are also very interested in creating a healthier national and international dialogue surrounding issues. As such, I thought I would take some time to highlight different default response positions that people might take. I urge you to consider the list. Which one most closely represents your tendencies? Which one would you like to most closely represent your tendencies? If the two are not the same, as is often the case with most of us, make a conscious effort to begin adjusting your responses. So, are you a whiner, a worldchanger, or something else?
passive – positive
We live in a society that desires deeply to value the positive in life. This is totally understandable, but is it wise? The passive positive person focuses almost exclusively on the positive. They don’t want to offend. They don’t want to stir up trouble or address issues that might evoke unpleasant responses. While the pursuit of positivity is a welcomed addition to our troubling times, the Passive-Positive response ultimately ignores the negative – leaving issues unaddressed and therefore free to continue without correction. (Ex: They wouldn’t have written this article as it is too “corrective.”)
passive – negative
Like the Passive-Positive individual, the Passive-Negative individual doesn’t want to stir up trouble. However, unlike their positive counterpart, these individuals do not spread the positive. This person is the private grumbler. They are passive in that they don’t often make public statements about problems. At the same time, they are negative that internally they are distraught by the problems of the world and they are likely to be vocal in a smaller, more localized environment. Another way to say this is that they are, in some sense, passive-aggressive. (Ex: The Passive-Negative wouldn’t have written this article. They want to and they would probably grumble to their close friends about it, but they are not solution oriented and don’t want to actually deal with the blowback from making public statements of correction).
The Aggressive-Negative person is loudly against what is going on. Unlike the previous two examples, this individual does not hold back. They realize that there are problems with the world and are quick to attack individuals in a way that is more destructive than constructive. They are rarely solution oriented and tend to focus almost exclusively on the negative. (Ex: The Aggressive-Negative would write this article, but rather than making recommendations for adjustment, they would probably have written it in a way that attacks people who are not in line with the “correct way.” It would be more about why people are wrong and not about how to realize improvement individually and collectively).
The Aggressive Positive is a bit of a walking contradiction. This is the individual who, like the passive positive individual doesn’t want conflict and doesn’t want to correct people. However, unlike the Passive-Positive, the Aggressive-Positive will openly rebuke those who fall in any of the more corrective categories. So while their disposition espouses positivity, the Aggressive-Positive individual makes exception (technically contradicting themselves) in order to correct the correctors. Interestingly enough, this means, in a sense, that they view correction (except their own of correctors) as the highest evil – the only thing worthy of openly correcting. (Ex: Aggressive-Positives would have written this article. However, it would have been exclusively addressed to those who correct others. Something like: “Why You Need To Stop Imposing Your Views On Other People”)
The Assertive-Negative is solution-oriented. They aren’t afraid to tell people what’s what, but they don’t feel the need to attack people in the process. They address the error in ideologies, groups, etc. but they are slow to make things personal and always try to make fact-based assessments of situations that involve considering multiple opposing views on an issue. However, they tend to focus on the problem, and even though they focus also on the solution, they may lack the ability to inspire people to action. In a world that thrives on denial, these people are needed- though their positive counterpart is more effective. (Ex: Assertive-Negatives would write this article, but would fail to inspire people.)
Assertive-Positive people are going to address facts over feelings (while being aware of, and compassionate toward those who are in distress). They draw attention to problems, but do so in a way that emphasizes the solution over the setback. This is a rare breed of individual. Why? Because this requires a mind that is able to see the problems, but not fixate on them. They can see all of the error, the pain, and the ludicrous happenings going on around them, but not get caught up in drawing attention to the problems. They are able to inspire people without discouraging them. These are the most effective worldchangers. (Assertive-positive would write this article and somehow inspire people toward action.)
Here is the good news (and my stab at being assertive-positive): Certain personality types are more of less prone to various response attitudes. However, none of us are stuck. These are not irrevocable character traits. We can make a difference in our own lives and as we do that we will increasingly do the same for others. So, be patient but purposeful. Give yourself time to adjust. Don’t freak out if you don’t like where you think you fall. But keep a steady emphasis on constantly moving toward a more effective communication strategy. Silly as it may sound, write assertive-positive on a piece of paper (or maybe type it in a bold typeface) and put it on your refrigerator or mirror. Every time you see it, tell yourself, “Today, I am going to be assertive-positive.” Do this, and mean it, and a I guarantee you will see yourself become a worldchanger in no time – whatever you put your hand to, no matter how small, you will become an agent for good.