Monday, November 17, 2008

Realistic or Pessimistic?????

Got a question for all of you. I want to know what you consider a realistic point of view and what you think a pessimistic point of view is.

I think that being realistic is looking at all of the situation, not glossing over the yucky parts, and seeing the good and the bad. Pessimistic is ALWAYS looking at JUST the bad. NEVER seeing any good. No matter what the situation, or the person being discussed.

What do you think? Agree or not?


Jen said...

My opinion is that all pessimists think they are "realists" because its not a popular point of view to be the downer "glass half empty" person. And that tends to imply that optimistic people aren't realistic.

Pessimistic--sees the situation realistically, with negative implications. "I shouldn't bother going to the job interview, because I won't get the job. It's a waste of time."

Optimistic--sees the situation realistically, with positive implications. "I probably won't get this job, but the interview will be good practice for the job that is right for me."

Same exact situation--going to a job interview that you probably won't get. Totally different response to the situation.

I also think pessimism/optimism correspond to a person's perception of locus of control. A person who believes they have control over the outcome in their life is more likely to be optimistic, where a person who feels controlled externally will have a more negative view of things.

For what its worth--I used to be very much a pessimist, who referred to myself a "realist." Now my temperament is more optimistic, and I don't think I'm unrealistic in the way I see things.

Mary Alice said...

I agree. My husband probably wouldn’t. He always looks at the good parts, expects good, and is surprised when things go awry....I look at all of it, including the bad, I think of all the ways something could go...consequently I often have already envisioned what could be coming my way, am not surprised by it, and have a plan for the eventuality. I call my style realistic, he calls my style pessimistic……maybe because sometimes the bad things DON’T happen. I call him the eternal optimist. Two different ways of being wired. I'm not sure you can be rewired as an adult. Although it can be tough living together with two different ways of looking at things, I actually think its better for the team. Yin and Yang. Balance. Two people who were exactly the same would either keep getting blindsided or would never get to experience the joys of letting go once in a while and trusting that it will all turn out rosy.

Steve-o said...

Some people have the ability to see everything that's wrong (e.g., myself) with the situation, and others see more of the positive. It's good to have a balance of both. I've noticed that a lot of people I know who tend to lean toward the negative also tend to be victims--everything that happens in their lives is something or someone else's fault.

I tend to lean more toward the negative (I, too call myself a "realist"), but I've also worked very hard at trying to look at negative outcomes and possibilities as opportunities for something positive. Sometimes the positive is what you learn from the experience, and sometimes there are positive things hidden amongst the negative that you have to search for. The latter is a big part of my job--all marketers have to find ways to spin things positively.

In many situations, you need both optimists and "realists". My world would be a complete disaster at times if I wasn't there pointing out the bad/wrong things with a situation. There's lot of groupthink in the workplace, and sometimes it's only the "realists" who have the ability to see that. You may bring people down in the process of bringing them back to reality, but they'll end up thank you for it in the long run.

emily said...

it's all been said... so i say I agree most with Jen. Amen.

Rachel said...

I think "realist" and I think that's what I am. I try to see the issue from all angles and plan for the good or bad. Realistically, it's usually the bad plan that ends up working... Hello. We are in the Army! The good somehow skirts around us... Chris is definitely the optimist in our relationship. I don't always see all the sunshiney parts of life... but I always have a plan. Or at least I try to... again, Army.

Tyson said...

So I'm a little behind on my blog reading, but this title caught my attention and I wanted to make my small comment about it. I don't know if I really have an opinion because I feel both at different times.

I came across this years back which I just love:

The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist believes it will change;
The realist adjusts the sails.

I love that because I love how it implies we have control over some things in our lives. Sure, circumstances and events happen beyond our control, but that's when we readjust our sails. And it just may be that all we can choose to do is hope for a better world, plowing in hope.