Optimism and Pessimism
As posted in a previous article - Sensory Filters, cash flow coaches work with a variety of clients who all have different mindsets based around their Meta Programs (the client’s basic thinking style). A common differentiator in clients, based on Meta Programs, is categorising and working with them as optimists or pessimists.
As a starting point, it is natural for a cash flow coach to gravitate towards the optimistic (in themselves most cash flow coaches will tend to be more optimistic than not) and when recognising a pessimist think that the best option may be to help turn them into an optimist. However, this may not be the case.
Generally speaking, optimists tend to be outwardly more positive about life, dream big and see a bright future. Optimism allows clients to pursue their goals in a proactive, positive manner and with a sense of eagerness and desire. Optimistic clients will respond better to a cash flow coach’s positive feedback, and their own feedback loops will be self-encouraging and based on positive-thinking.
Sociology studies suggest that optimists have a “promotion focus” - they prefer to think about what they can achieve and how they can advance and grow. The motivation for an optimist is to try, try and try again because they believe the best will eventually happen.
Whilst this sounds like the ‘perfect’ client, optimists can sometimes take their upbeat mindset too far. In difficult times, the optimist may be able to see the possibilities and good outcomes, and they may come across as encouraging or even inspiring. But, if their point of view is not connected to reality, then their optimism can be harmful.
By definition, pessimists tend to focus on the negative aspects of things or believe that the worst will happen. The ultimate pessimist will only be able to see one outcome – not a good one. The catch cry of the total pessimist is “this is all going to end badly”.
The overarching problem with this is that it can limit the pessimist client’s ability to see options, to choose new actions and seek new solutions. And this is something that cash flow coach can find harder to work with.
However, pessimist clients who believe that the worst will happen can cope better with the ups and downs of their cash flow coaching journey. Being pessimistic can help clients with their natural stress and anxiety levels as well as motivate them to perform better. Research has shown they respond better to negative feedback because it allows them to understand their problems better and put themselves in a position to correct them. A pessimistic attitude is fundamentally about security and safety, so it helps clients prepare and protect themselves against failure. It can also inspire them to devise plans that will overcome poor outcomes and avoid worst-case scenarios.
Therefore, the best approach may lie somewhere in between the two.
The first thing for a cash flow coach to recognise is that neither optimism nor pessimism is inherently right or wrong. And they can be contextual, with every situation unique. A client may treat one concept or experience with an optimistic view and another with caution and pessimism.
Each time a client is faced with a new concept or additional information, there is a multitude of details, sensory inputs and memories that need to considered and compared. It is impossible to process all of it and clients rely on their meta programs and generalise, distort or delete certain pieces of information to assimilate the data.
Part of this is due to their degree of optimism or pessimism.
Optimists will focus on certain aspects of a situation while pessimists will focus on other aspects – again, neither of them is necessarily right. Where it is considered helpful, moving clients to the middle ground (for optimists adopting a safer, securer, more realistic mindset; or for pessimists having a more positive approach) means helping them focus on different aspects to the ones they are currently using.
Three Areas of Evaluation
Clients will tend to evaluate concepts, information and events across three areas:-
Internal/External – whether the outcome or result is in their control
Stable/Unstable – whether future outcomes will turn out the same
Global/Specific – whether it representative of all outcomes and results
Optimists and pessimists will tend to approach things for opposite ends of all these three areas of evaluation.
For example, imagine a cash flow coaching client who has had a bad month and not achieved their monthly targets.
An optimist may think –
“I did the best I could” (External)
“I’m sure I’ll do better next month” (Unstable)
“It was just a blip” (Specific)
A pessimist may think –
“I’m hopeless” (Internal)
“I’m going to fail again next month (Stable)
“I’ll never achieve financial security” (Global)
All combinations are possible, and these are the two ends of the spectrum in relation to a negative outcome. For a positive outcome, the combinations are reversed. An optimist will think “I’m good at this” (Internal), “I can do this again next month” (Stable) and “I’m going to be financially secure” (Global).
Because the optimist uses the external/instable/specific combination when faced with a poor/bad outcome, it means that they don’t dwell on or let negative outcomes affect them too much. However, they are less inclined to put proactive rectification steps in place.
The more clients use the internal/stable/global combination, the more meaningful, engrained and impactful it becomes. Client’s focus will be intensified and it will be more and more difficult to move away from this way of thinking. This is good for optimists who are tracking well, but not so good for pessimists who have had a number of bad months.
The primary aim of the cash flow coach is to encourage clients into better cash flow positions – a change in habit that is not necessarily easy. This will mean that clients will sometime fail to meet monthly targets in their journey to improve their cash flow position. This will mean working with negative outcomes. The optimist’s methods for dealing with poor results are more objective and realistic; however, they can easily be brushed aside and allowed to continue. Pessimists need to recognise that they are generalising and caught in the stable/global evaluation areas and they can turn things around by focussing on different aspects.
All clients are unique. Optimism and pessimism are two different strategies that clients use to effectively cope with the changes you, as a cash flow coach, are working on with them. Given this, the natural tendency to turn a pessimist into an optimist mat not be the best way forward. Cash flow coaching is about understanding what makes your client tick and working with that to assist them in achieving their goals.
elevateB provides the training program as well as support and ongoing development for certified cash flow coaches. Individuals who choose to work with a certified cash flow coach are better placed to achieve financial independence and security. If you would like to make a difference and help everyday Australians be more financially prudent and savvy, consider becoming a cash flow coach today. Click here.