Fostering Relationships: The Chicken Little

Chicken Little was confused and mistaken. He thought the cartoon acorn that hit him on his cartoon head was the cartoon sky. He thought the sky was falling.

There are chicken littles in the real world, too. They are also confused and mistaken. But they are most aptly defined by their contagious negative attitude. Chicken littles in the real world brighten a room whenever they leave the room.

You probably have one or more chicken littles in your life today, either at home or work or both. These are the people that always have something going wrong, they will always tell you why something can't or won't happen and they seemingly love to point out your faults. For a chicken little, every "sky" is falling somewhere.

What is the best way to deal with these little chickens? Can they have their mind changed? Why, out of all the emotions in the human spirit, have they chosen to allow a negative attitude define them?

Here are three "understandings" that should help you to deal with and make life bearable (and maybe even better) for you and for your chicken littles...

1. Understand they weren't born negative - they became conditioned over time. They learned this mode of operation slowly over the years. If you view your little chickens' negative attitude as a pervasive condition of their life, many times this makes it easier to deal with them because you know they don't have a beef with you, they have a beef with everyone and everything.

2. Understand they can't be "chicken big" overnight - it will take time. Chicken littles have perfected the art of negativity. Depending on their age, they may have been little for a long time. Don't expect overnight results or changes, but do expect them to respond (even in small, subtle ways) to your positive influence.

3. Understand you can't change a chicken little - only they can. Chicken littles are the way they are for a reason. More than likely they enjoy (even if in a very twisted way) the results they get from being negative. It is a safe place to play - never getting your hopes up and always having low expectations. It is also an easy place to play because chicken littles are all about problems and not solutions. The problems are easily recognizable and take zero work. Solutions are many times difficult to see and obviously require action to come to life. A chicken little will only change if they are presented with enough evidence that it is worth the change. Your positive behavior and language can be this evidence.

Just remember, little people talk about problems... big people talk about solutions. Be big.
Processing Questions for PLI Curriculum Teachers/Trainers:
1. Why do you think people have a negative attitude?

2. What are the benefits of having a positive attitude?

3. What are the steps you can take today to have a positive attitude at work? At home? In relationships with others?

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