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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How Not to be a Yuckaholic!

Okay. I admit it! I left the Smart Zone recently when I just lost it with the phone company. I was featured in a story on the 10:00 pm news in Dallas about the AD/HD test I offer in my clinical practice. The day after I was on TV the phone lines in my office went down for 24 hours. People who saw the news story were calling my office to set up an appointment and all they were getting was a fast busy signal! Those of you who own businesses know how upset I was. It was so bad that I was acting like a Yuckaholic! A Yuckaholic is what we call someone who is stuck in their Yuck and out of the Smart Zone. Here's a quick question to find out if you might be a Yuckaholic. If someone gives you a nasty hand gesture in traffic do you think: a) "People are so rude!" b) "That person must be having a bad day." If you guessed "a" then you might be a Yuckaholic. Author Daniel Goleman calls it the "yuck factor." This is the part of your day when your productivity plummets. You start agonizing over the next sales call, an upcoming meeting or a task you need to complete. Procrastination sets in. This hits me when I have reports to complete and when I get home and don't feel like cooking dinner. Just for fun, watch this video of something that can turn you into a Yuckaholic.

Yuckaholics give up control of their day and allow the "yucky" task to take over. You can become a Yuckaholic if you spend more time complaining about the yucky task than actually doing it. People in the Smart Zone know how to avoid becoming a Yuckaholic. Check out these characteristics of someone in the Smart Zone in charge of their Yuck:

  • They are persistent in achieving goals in spite of obstacles and setbacks.

  • They feel that they can control situations rather than situations controlling them.

  • They are more popular and approachable.

  • They are more hopeful for success in daily work.

  • They have a minimized fear of failure.

  • They are good role models and set an optimistic tone in the workplace and at home.

  • They live longer, healthier lives.

  • They smile all day and dance around in a cute leotard. (Only kidding, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention).

According to Martin E.P. Seligman's book, Learned Optimism, if you are in one of these fields then an optimistic lifestyle is a must:

  • Sales

  • Brokering

  • Public Relations

  • Speaking and Acting

  • Fundraising

  • Creative Jobs

  • Highly Competitive Jobs

  • High-Burnout Jobs

There is an argument to be made that Yuckaholics have their place in corporate America. Research supports the fact that pessimists have a more accurate take on some situations than optimists because optimists believe they have more control over things than they actually do. If you are an Accountant, Safety Engineer, Contract Negotiator or Technical Writer it actually helps to be a little pessimistic. However, optimism is simply more useful in relationships and life in general. One example of what causes many people to become Yuckaholics is meeting with a difficult manager/client/employee. Here are 4 Smart Moves for decreasing your chances of being a Yuckaholic and being more optimistic in that kind of situation:

  • Argue with yourself. Before every "yuck factor" in your day there is a way to fight it with an attitude you can change or a skill you can acquire. Take control of the situation by arguing that you are in control of the "yuck."

  • Could you be imagining things? It is your belief about your manager that matters more than the actual meeting itself. The best way to dispute a negative belief is to prove that it is false. Take a quick reality check. Does your manager really want to yell at you? Does he really dislike you?

  • Consider other causes. Most events in the world have more than one cause. Yuckaholics narrow in on one bad cause. In this case: "I don't like to meet with my manager because my manager hates me." Optimists realize there are other causes like, "this organization puts too much stress on people in management" or "I really know what I'm talking about and my manager isn't as involved in the daily operations and so he doesn't have all of the information."

  • Accept the truth. So what if you are right? Your manager does hate your guts. Is it the end of the world? Just because a meeting doesn't go well doesn't mean life is over. See it as an opportunity to shine by improving next time. Employees who overcome a setback show their value even more to their managers and grow personally from the experience.

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