The self-indulgence of oppositional defiance
Jeff Jarvis zeroes in on how to handle curmudgeons -- "get us past the growling as soon as possible and onto a substantive discussion:"
"You can always find reasons not to do things. Then fine, don’t do them. Far more interesting and useful is to explore what might happen if you do them. ...
"Well, the hour is far too late and the state of the industry far, far too desperate to waste time with these sideshows. They had their time and the objections needed to be addressed in that time. But I haven’t heard fresh objections in a few years. What I want to hear instead is fresh ideas; we must have more of those."
Of course, simply moving on works better in the public debate than it does in the organization.
Debate that moves us forward is good, but destructive sniping, complaining, and passive-aggressive undermining is not. The unpleasant cure in the workplace may be to show the curmudgeons the door. We just don't have the time.
Especially irksome is curmudgeonly behavior that shows up as submarine attacks.
What's a submarine attack? You've seen it. Curmudgeon goes to all the meetings with folded arms. When pressed, curmudgeon says the right words. Then curmudgeon sinks the program with a series of silent, hidden maneuvers.
You might have gotten away with that in the old days. Every curmudgeon was hired at one time for discernable strengths. When things are going well, a newspaper can simply move curmudgeons to positions where they can do little damage.
But every editor in America right now knows that at any moment the publisher could respond to yet another horrible revenue month by asking for more cuts. How badly do you want to be on that list?
Newsroom curmudgeons would do themselves -- and their families -- a favor by abandoning the self-indulgence of oppositional defiance.
Figure out a way to help your coworkers and help yourself. You can't control the Internet, or the boss, or market forces, or Sam Zell, or whatever other ogre you want to blame, but you can control your own attitude and behavior. Or move on.