As I listened to the the news on both radio and television this Friday, nearly every mention of the switch to Daylight Saving Time brought on some mention of the “loss of one hour” we would experience on Saturday. It seemed that the entire focus during the time change weekend was on the loss. I don't recall a single person speaking positively about the hour of daylight we would “gain” at the end of the normal business day.
Then, I thought back to the switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time last fall, and I did not recall any significant mention of “gaining one hour” during that weekend.
Here in Indiana, we just started observing Daylight Saving Time in 2006. So, it is still fairly well talked about when the time change happens. And, it seems to me, almost all of the talk is towards the negative.
Since I moved to Indiana as an adult, I lived for the better part of my life in states that observed Daylight Saving Time. So, I don't really give it much thought one way or the other. It's just “how it is” for me.
The point of this post is not to argue the merits or costs of Daylight Saving Time. I am just noticing a tendency that the time change reveals in human nature, and thinking through how I can learn from the behavioral tendencies surrounding this event. And here's my observation:
People tend to notice loss more than gain and to see the negative before they see the positive.
I recognize that this is a broad statement. Some people will argue that they don't go negative. Well, maybe not. And most people do.
If you are interested in becoming a more persuasive and influential leader, communicator, or parent; the learning point is to realize that the people you are interacting with will likely notice what things cost, what they will lose, or how much your proposal will inconvenience them long before they notice the positive benefits or rewards of cooperating with you.
From a practical standpoint, this means that we must give people room to vent and express their negative reaction while we maintain a focus on the positive. They will likely go negative first. We need to anticipate and plan for this response rather than get caught off-guard and frustrated by it. Really, it's okay. It's normal. Almost all of us do it to some degree.
Highly effective leaders and communicators find ways to stay positive in spite of initial negative reactions from others.