The 5 key points Harold makes are:

1. Know the difference between a sceptic and cynic
2. How do people really see you?
3. It starts with your mind-set about trust
4. Start with eliminating the negativity
5. Put more skin in the game

Ask your question: http://www.drharoldhillman.com/ask-harold-show.html

YouTube Link: Skepticism vs Cynicism at Work | Episode 5

 Ask Harold Episode 5 Transcript:

Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here. Thank you for joining me on episode 5 of Ask Harold. On this episode I’ll answer a question from a viewer who thinks that she’s becoming too cynical for her own good. She wants to do a reality check.

Today we have a somewhat amusing question for our fifth episode of Ask Harold. It’s amusing in the sense of: I’ve been there, can relate to that, and I’m sure you’ve been there as well. This question is from Rachel, who writes:

Our team met for a team building session a few weeks ago. Everybody got a chance to hear what the others on the team felt about them: their strengths and where they can do better.

I was shocked to hear that most of my teammates think that I’m the team cynic. That made me wince to hear them use that word. For me a cynic is someone who is really negative. I even tested my understanding of what they were talking about – and they told me that I come across as negative and cynical.

So in order for me to do something about it, I first have to know what cynicism is all about.

Appreciate any insight you can offer a cynic who wants to become a recovering cynic.



Rachel, that’s a great question. I appreciate that last line there which is: wow, you certainly don’t want people to perceive that you are a drag on their energy so it really is important to get across this and understand what may be happening.

So let’s focus on 5 things: 5 things that I’d like for you to think about:

1. Know the difference between a sceptic and a cynic: those are two different roles and they project two different energies. A skeptic is a person who might be a little doubtful about the approach we’re going to take but they actually back the initiative. They just ask some really critical questions to slow things down so we can probe around this a little bit more. A cynic questions the motive: they actually go to the heart of trust, or distrust for that matter. A cynic is a person who’s seen as just somewhat suspect of what everything is about. There’s got to be something behind everything. So that’s one thing. And if that’s how people are seeing you and if you really want to get across that, to that end think about this second thing, and that is:

2. Continue to dig in to that feedback that you are getting. How do people really see you? Here’s some things that cynics look like and sound like: they ARE negative, they’re disengaged; they sit on the periphery of the room, they sit in the back of the room usually with their arms folded, sitting in judgement of the rest of the people who might want to get on board – that type of thing. An “us vs them” mentality, management is up to something, we have to fin together against them. Being the person who’s really crafty and clever in knowing where to be at the right time and all of those kinds of things. Is that how people see you? If it is, then you really want to dig in to that.

3. The third thing that I’d like you to think about, Rachel, is: it all starts with your mindset about trust. If you’ve been burned before and someone asked you to trust the process or the decision that was made, chances are you’re going to be a bit cynical than somebody who’s had a bunch of positive experiences. Know what your starting point is. If people are hearing a lot of negativity, then is there something behind that? Do you really need to go and explore: “Have I just become distrustful in general”?

4. The fourth thing: start eliminating the negativity. That’s what people experience first and foremost from you. That’s the energy they get; and negativity is off-putting – people don’t like to be around it unless they report to you, then they have to, but do you really want people to be around you only because they have to vs they really want to? So get on top of the negativity.

5. And then the final thing I would suggest you do is: put more skin in the game, Rachel. Take some ownership for the success of something that you might really want to believe in. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines or sit in the back of the room and comment on things that you don’t think are going to work and laugh at others who might be willing to invest their time. It’s another thing to actually put your own skin in the game around some things – it gives you more credibility to have those opinions.

Rachel, what a great question, thanks for that and thank you all for watching Ask Harold.

On the next episode I’ll answer a question from a viewer who says that she’s on a dysfunctional team and wants to know what to do – we’ll definitely have some fun with that one too.

Remember: if you like this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have a question of your own, or want to see my other videos and articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com

Take good care and see you all soon.