Have the courage to say what works, not what’s easy

“There’s a lot of negative energy in here.”
The speaker was a tall woman in her early thirties, and I’d already lost interest when she had started her presentation with a group meditation. Sent to our office by some overenthusiastic HR grad, we now had to listen to her talking about energy and other nonsense; I’d rather be back at my desk where I could make some money.
“Let’s talk about how you’re all feeling right now.” She picked out a few team members. “How are you feeling?”
“Annoyed.”
“Frustrated.”
“Angry.”
After a few more, the presenter paused. “Is anyone in here feeling good?”
Jessica raised her hand. In charge of the entire division, she was driven and passionate about the company.
“Anyone else?” asked the speaker. “One person. Okay Jessica, why do you feel good?”
“It’s all about attitude isn’t it?” she said with a smug grin. “If you feel good in yourself then good things happen, that’s what positive energy is all about.”
I wanted to stab myself in the eye but didn’t have anything sharp.
Jessica stood up. “I believe the negative energy we’re experiencing here is as a result of people not taking enough responsibility for their attitude.”
I considered the virtues of unemployment, anything to be away from Jessica who, I admitted to myself, frightened me.
The speaker obviously knew who Jessica was; she’d said her name and no doubt had met her before we were all dragged into the oversized meeting room that doubled as an auditorium. But she didn’t seem to care.
“I couldn’t possibly disagree with you anymore.”
Still standing, Jessica’s face contorted in a way usually reserved for subordinates who dare to question her.
“You see Jessica; you say that you’re feeling good, and yet everyone else in the room is unhappy. This doesn’t seem to be a happy workplace for anyone but you. So what makes you happy? Power? Money? A feeling of superiority?”
The silence in the room was more intense than any I’d experienced. Nobody wanted to make a sound which could be perceived by Jessica to be agreement with the speaker.
“I’m not saying this to be hurtful,” said the presenter, seemingly oblivious to Jessica’s fury. “But the best way to counteract negative energy is to confront it and give it a name.”
Jessica sat down slowly.
“Naming negative energy robs it of it’s power, transforming it from an invisible entity, into a word. There is nothing to fear in a word, and through changing your internal dialogue, deciding to name things rather than reactively experience them, you can change your experience of the world.”
A few brave audience members nodded in agreement.
“Are you naming your negative energy?” she asked the group.
More nods, a few nervous glances at Jessica.
“The most important part of this process is realising where power lies. Jessica holds none, other than that which you give her, which at the moment is considerable. I understand, I’ve had bosses who were bullies before.”
Jessica quite reasonably decided enough was enough. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m here to talk about energy.” she turned back to the group. “Anyway, your energy is nothing more than a decision, and if you decide to let someone else impact on that, then that’s a decision too. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or how they act, your life is a choice and how you choose to perceive your life is the most important decision you make, and you’re making it all the time.”
“I want you out,” said Jessica. “This…whatever this is…it’s over.”
“That’s fine,” the woman didn’t change her expression. “The main thing you all need to remember is that there are people experiencing the worst circumstances imaginable, who choose to exude positive energy. Then there are fortunate people like you, who allow negativity masquerading as positivity to inflict itself on you and change your life.”
Jessica was now standing next to the woman and looked ready to physically remove her. She whispered something, probably a threat to call security.
“So how’s the energy in here now?” the woman asked. “Is it electric? Full of possibility?”
As she walked out the door, with Jessica on her tail she turned and delivered her killer blow.
“What are you going to do with that energy? Waste it, or use it to change your life?”

A few weeks after the meeting I sought the woman out, I wanted to know why she had behaved the way she did. I didn’t understand why she would jeopardise a client relationship like that, all she had to do was deliver her message and leave Jessica alone.
“I could see the pain in the room,” she told me. “I don’t know; I just felt like I needed to help you.”
“You did,” I said. “That was amazing.”
“Then it was worth it.”