The Failure of Fingerwagging

Image by Geoff Livingston
08.30.2012By

Image by Geoff Livingston

Last week, we talked a bit about small acts and how they can lead to change. Today, let’s talk about negativity, and how it undermines change.

We want to inspire generosity, right? We want to change our society.

Yet why do so many change agents point their fingers at people and say, “This is wrong! Change!”

It’s not that we can’t discuss problems. We need to if we as individuals and as a collective society intend to evolve.

Yet, this discussion needs to create paths towards a positive outcome. What are the solutions? How can we as individuals make a difference with small easy-to-take acts?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote a timely piece in Harvard Business Review that addresses how to win. In one case she looks at negativity in the workplace and peer circles:

“Winners can maintain high aspirations and act generously toward others. Losers are more likely to blame others and disdain them as mediocre, creating a culture of finger-pointing and infighting.”

How often do we see this negativity in today’s political and social environments?

My most popular post on my personal blog is a piece called “How the Grinch Stole Green Christmas.” It discusses how environmental activists dissuade consumerism when in actuality they should encourage it, particularly when it benefits the environment.

Guilt trips and finger wagging have utterly failed to evoke societal change towards progressive environmental policies and actions.

If we want to change, we have to provide encouragement. We have to provide ways for people to feel good about participating in our efforts. And we have to provide a solution to the problem.

Stop fingerwagging, and start inspiring.

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  • wisdom warrior

    Nice! And thank you for sharing what I’m sure a lot of people are thinking. How refreshing- for people to feel good about participating in the efforts and provide solutions to the problems. Now if my mom would just follow your suggestions! Kudos.