A client’s community members are cynical, extremely cynical. They trash every new idea, criticize every decision, lower the tone of every discussion.
Cynicism is a hard stain to remove.
Cynicism is a self-preservation measure. You can’t be disappointed if you always expect the worse. If you can persuade others to agree with you, you feel validated in your negativity too. Cynicism happens when we’ve been let down, hurt, or feel angry about issues we often struggle to control. When this anger isn’t dealt with it festers and becomes cynicism.
You don’t tackle cynicism with excessive optimism. To a cynic, that’s not a breath of fresh air, it’s an irritating bug needing to be crushed.
You tackle cynicism by providing a place for people to identify and deal with the underlying anger and frustration. This place needs to be non-judgemental, emotions need to be reciprocated, and members need to feel genuinely listened to. Members need to bond closer together as a result of their shared frustration, hurt, and anger.
Once they’ve been listened to and responded to, you can begin to make small promises and keep them. Then you can make larger promises and keep them too. You gradually bond the community into a tighter group through their shared emotions.
The secret to tackling cynicism isn’t optimism, it’s a stronger sense of community. This is a community you can forge by providing members with a mutual sense of trust to speak openly about their anger, fear, and hurt.