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Doom and Gloom: a path to nowhere

February 17, 2015

man-93951_1280I am always surprised by the volume of ‘doom and gloom’ mail that I receive. Yes, there are many problems to be solved and some days they can feel quite overwhelming, but I have yet to see an instance where doom and gloom made them any better.

So my natural inclination is to delete the mail – the equivalent, I suppose, of executing the messenger.

Most of us in the world of contracts or law are talented at seeing problems and difficulties. It is a key reason why we are part of review processes. But sometimes, there are members of our community who get stuck and who think that raising issues and objections is a sustainable source of value. These are people who are frequently complaining about the ignorance of others, or the failure of management support, or are incredulous that others ‘just don’t get it’.

Many times I have observed contracts and commercial professionals and managers present to senior management, outlining issues or challenges associated with a particular deal or a policy. Far too often, their approach is to warn of the dire consequences that will follow from some particular action or inaction. Rather like a fire and brimstone preacher, they leave their audience with a fear of being overwhelmed.

Then they wonder why it is that no action is taken, or why they are increasingly left out from meetings. The answer is simple: like those emails I receive, they are simply deleted.

The reason, of course, is that our managers and colleagues want answers and solutions. They want positive proposals for action, not doom and gloom messages that generate inaction. They all have their fair share of issues and problems to fix; they don’t need ours put on top. As professionals, they expect us (rightly) to come with remedies, not complaints about the symptoms or predictions of imminent death.

So next time you hear a colleague on the ‘gloom and doom’ trail, help them off it. Remind them that it is not only a path to nowhere for them personally, but it also sustains a negative image of the entire profession. As one of my former managers used to remind me, if you are feeling negative about something, think the opposite. It is amazing what creative solutions a different mindset can generate.

  1. In a previous role many years ago, my colleagues elsewhere in the world were called the “Contracts Prevention Dept” by the Sales team. The Gloom and Doom mindset clearly continues and is not necessary!

  2. Owen Davies permalink

    Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.

  3. I like that quote! Thank you!

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