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By Joey Havens

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The terms The Naysayer, The Skinner, The Backhand & The Dumper are not originals of mine, but I am unsure of who to give proper credit. Once I read them, the terms just stuck with me as I identified very quickly that these are situations that slow me down.   
Some things just really weigh me down. I call them anchors, because they cause my forward momentum to stop. Now, I am not sure why some things bother me more than others, but they do. I try to recognize these pet peeves and respond in a manner that is appropriate, but also honest. Sometimes I do a pretty good job, and sometimes I don’t. My wife is especially good at letting me know when I don’t. I might as well have dropped an anchor on my toe when that happens.  
What are some of these anchors for me?
 The Naysayer. This person always looks at the glass as half empty. They just struggle to find anything going right. I’ve learned that a good rule of thumb is to try to say three good things for every negative comment. This provides a good balance and people tend to listen to the negative less defensively when we also include some positive feedback. When it appears that I am being confronted with a completely negative viewpoint, I am trying to practice the habit of asking for additional comments on what is working right. My intention is to provide this person with the benefit of good intentions and try to realize that they probably want the same things our team does.  
The Skinner. This person never seems to get any skin in the game but they sure have all the knives. The game is a little tougher when you are actually in the battle. Coming out to bayonet the wounded just doesn’t sit well with me. I have a hard time being positive with people who seem to be attacking someone who is working really hard to do the right things for the team. I try to bite my tongue and look for the good intentions that I know exist. As my predecessor always said, “You have to grow tougher skin to lead.” 
The Backhand. This person has a hard time speaking directly and honestly about their opinion or feelings on a matter when asked, but will run to the water cooler to express it regularly. It is really hard to respect someone who does this and even more difficult to give credibility to their opinion.
Rather than making assumptions when I hear these things, I am trying to be sure that I am open to feedback and that I give this person a one-on-one opportunity to express how they are feeling. I realize that it’s easy to create barriers that cause someone to be uncomfortable expressing his or her opinion. We have to have direct and honest communication, even when we disagree, and respect those opinions. One of the common traits of a high performing team is the ability to disagree in an open and honest manner. I never mind someone disagreeing with me, and in fact, I think that makes our team stronger. No one is right all the time. It is only a negative to disagree when it is not communicated openly and honestly.
The Dumper. This person always tries to leave a problem with you. They never have ideas or a solution to offer, nor have they taken ownership in the problem. They just want to dump it on someone else. They are not looking for advice or assistance; they are looking for a way out. I try to ask more questions that help this person think about a solution and look for ways for them to take ownership.   
When I find myself being moored to the dock by these kinds of anchors, I set sail looking for positive colleagues, client and friends. I seek out “yes until no” people, creative people, fun people who are possibility thinkers. When I do this, before I know it, they help me create clear seas ahead.

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