The price of expressing positive sentiment

"Be positive," goes the mantra drilled into us.  Think positive, talk positive, live your life with the glass half full. It sounds like good advise.  Focusing on the negative parts of our lives instead of our blessings really do make us miserable -- and often very self-centric.  It's easy to want to nurse our perceived wounds instead of looking at the big picture that tells us just how much we really do have and take for granted.


Yet for all the talk, there is increasingly a dark side to talking positive:  people often now take a positively expressed sentiment as unprofessional, an attempt to solicit a sexual relationship, or worse.


A simple, "I like you, I think you are very nice" is taken not at positive face value, but often as a form of threat, especially when expressed between men and women engaged in some sort of professional interaction.


This is what I've discovered very painfully as my attempts to simply be amiable and positive keep being misconstrued by men I work with as some threat to their jobs or perhaps veil sexual harassment.


There's nothing sexual about "I enjoy your company; you are a nice person."  At least, there did not used to be.


Somehow our culture has become so hyper-sexual and disconnected, it's not allowed to be positive around people -- at least of the opposite sex.


Must I cloak everything in my large, writer's vocabulary, speaking as if I were a character in a Jane Austen novel instead of as a 21st century woman?  Must I maintain such high level of protocol and formality, visible detachment that one might confuse me with Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (a favorite book of mine)?


Or by contrast, must I conduct myself at work as if I am so miserable that one should be worried I might harm myself, even if I'm having a good day and feeling positive inside?


To what level of absurdity does this go?


Note to world:  women and men can talk together in a positive way without it being about sex.  Sometimes a positive remark should  just be accepted at face value -- instead of being assumed to be about something else.



Laurel A. Rockefeller, author

The Great Succession Crisis

E-Book ISBN: 9781476243344
Print book ISBN: 978-1479144808


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