“I’m Not Negative, I’m Just Honest”

You’ve probably heard this, or something like it, from jaded old crew members. (Or young ones who like to think they’re jaded.) And whatever it is they’re being negative about, odds are they’re right. But in the words of The Dude–

Outside of the context of discussion with a very good friend, “I’m just being honest” is up there with “I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist.”

Don’t ever say it. And if you’re ever in a situation where that seems like a necessary defense for whatever you’re talking about, then you’re already in trouble.

Nobody likes to hang around negative people.1 And as a PA, you are extremely replaceable, so they don’t have to hang around with you.

Of course, sometimes you must point out something is wrong. It could be as minor as someone printing the sides wrong, or as major as a safety issue.

There’s basically two questions you should ask yourself before saying something negative, about anyone or anything on set–

  1. Is this a specific, discrete event?
  2. Can anything be done about it?

In other words, if this issue is a general, systemic problem, you’re just complaining. If you’re not going to be able to fix it, you’re just complaining.

We all need to vent; I get that. But work is not the place for it. Tell your friends, tell your mom, tell your cat. Anyone but your co-workers.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Or excessively, fakely positive people.
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4 Responses

  1. Great post. Some other points.

    1. The industry can be a very small world. That person you are trashing can be a friend of the person you are telling.

    2. Whenever someone tells me what a jerk someone else is, I immediately wonder what they say about me when I’m not around.

  2. Yeah, some people take the complaining too far and it just casts a sour mood on the day. The opposite is also true. Recently, I keep being told on set that it’s nice that I’m in a good mood all of the time, even when we’re all tired and stressed out. I’m not always happy, but on set I try to keep mine and everyone’s spirits up, and people notice it. I had the UPM tell me that she’d rather hire someone that is positive and happy and less experienced than a difficult grouch with a dozen years experience.

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