Have you ever wondered why some people always respond in the same way in certain situations? In the workplace, when faced with change, one response often heard is ‘well we have already tried this, and it didn’t work’.

Another is ‘yes that’s a good idea but…

What is a Mindset?

These responses are signs of a mindset. The mindset in this example is that of a having a negative response to the world around us. Although an overworked cliche, it’s the way of seeing the world as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full.

Mind sets are ways in which we habitually respond to our world and represent our prevailing attitudes. They develop from the way we perceive and how we interpret those perceptions.   As they have become habits we often use them without thinking. They can become automatic.

A Positive v. Negative Mindset

Some mind sets, such as the one I have mentioned above can have negative consequences both for ourselves and others around us. If we are continually responding with a ‘yes, but’, then people will stop involving us in new projects. We will be always putting up barriers.

This is not to say that we should enthusiastically embrace all change and stay positive all the time. This would be unrealistic and does not prepare us for unforeseen consequences.  An element of skepticism is healthy for society provided it doesn’t shut down discussion and we are prepared to listen to all sides. We need people to challenge ideas in a constructive way in terms of what actions are needed. However, that challenge is best made in a way that doesn’t shut down the possibility for change and is accepting of the others view.

So, instead of using ‘yes but’ when faced with discussion of change why not try ‘yes and’. Then  introduce any further thoughts you may have that you think have been overlooked. This confirms that you are open to new ideas and at the same time are aware that there may be issues that have not yet been aired.

How to change our mindsets

As we often don’t know or are not aware of our mindsets, it is a helpful exercise to unearth them, so we can become more conscious about them.

One way to review them is to ask for feedback from others on how we habitually respond. If patterns emerge that are negative, then we should start to become aware of when we use them and start to re-frame our responses.

As mind sets are habits that have built up over time it will take time to change them. You will need to be reminding yourself constantly to remain alert to the language and attitudes that you want to change and work on these a step at a time.

Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached women and men in a variety of corporate settings, and has developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently published a book on creativity for leaders with Dr. Tracy Stanley, entitled Creativity Cycling .