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Do you ever have difficulty dealing with a bad situation? Are you spending a lot of time and energy defending your position, opinion or suggestions? Or maybe you feel picked on, outnumbered and not supported.

QUESTION: What to do when you feel alone and unsupported?

ANSWER: Build your positive support

How you communicate and who you communicate with means everything. When you’re in the tempest of a storm, it’s difficult to step back and see the big picture, though that’s exactly what will serve you best. Doing so is the first step of being able to think strategically and come up with a plan you can move to action — a plan that will help you to maintain relationships and position you as a competent leader.

Here’s the key:

You only have so much energy in your precious body. Use it wisely. Spend it in the areas that mean the most to you and will bring the greatest results.

When you find yourself spinning in a negative situation, you can oh-so-easily be pulled into the vortex. You spend your energy fighting off the negative, handling the complaints and complainers. You’re doing what most people do. Is it getting the results you want? Are you really getting the support you deserve? If not, what do you want to change to get what you need?

So how to build positive support?

Years ago, I was in a similar situation when I was working at Ottawa International Airport as the Community Relations Manager. We were in the middle of finalizing the airport’s masterplan and sharing mid- to long-term building plans with the local community that would be affected.

Like most projects, we had some very vocal negatories. Their concerns were very real for them and we wanted to hear their input. What I found was that I was spending almost my full days responding to complaints, concerns, and people who were completely contrary to anything being suggested. They didn’t want to compromise, discuss or input. They wanted to shut down, period. Dealing with them was consuming the majority of my energy and time. This came with an opportunity cost of other things I could have been doing.

Sound like some people you know or work with?

That’s when I made a choice. I realized I only had a limited number of hours in the day, only so much energy, and I had a decision to make about where I was going to spend my resources.

Instead of spinning and getting upset by the negatories, I consciously made an effort to ferret out supporters of our plan. I focused on reaching out to people I knew agreed with what we were doing or would do so, as soon as they knew about it.

What supporters are YOU overlooking?

Who is or would be an advocate of your initiatives? Are you calling them, building your relationships with them? When you do, you build support. Consider that as insurance, like a bank account that you can draw from when you need it.

Not sure if this strategy works? Here’s another example.

Several years ago, I watched a story on the TV program, “60 Minutes”, that has stuck with me. Leslie Stahl was reporting on counter-insurgency tactics being used in Springfield, Massachusetts to combat gangs. The streets were plagued with drug lords riding motorcycles and carrying assault weapons to laud over the victimized residents. Crime was rampant and the law-abiding citizens were afraid to speak up and say anything.

Forget about spending resources counterpointing the negative people. Spend your energy on your supporters.

An officer, returning from military service overseas, recommended a new and novel approach. He started using the counter-insurgence tactics he had learned and applied in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries. Instead of spending all the resources on battling the enemy, he flipped the paradigm and began to develop relationships with the supporters. He and his team of officers knocked on neighborhood doors, introduced themselves, frequently local shops, and chatted with people in the streets. 

Show the world you have support. Celebrate the community.

They created “walking school buses” where the uniformed officers and local parents and volunteers walked groups of young students, previously afraid, to and from school. It was a visual statement shouting to the gangs, “Hey, we have the support and we’re taking back the streets!” They even launched regular meetings with stakeholders who shared their common vision and interest in cleaning up the neighborhood, and that allowed for synergies and shared information.

The results?

Springfield had a 25% drop in violent crimes and a decline in a multitude of other negative metrics. And what happened to that military officer who applied what he learned overseas back here at home? He’s now applied what he learned at home about building positive support to teach others going overseas for counter-insurgence. The building of support continues.

This change of approach makes a difference in results. Will you use it to make a difference in your world too?

Give this approach a chance. Implement it once, twice, maybe three times and see if your results improve. Let me know. I’m cheering for you.

©2013 to 2023 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

©2023 Marion Grobb Finkelstein (MarionSpeaks)

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation” 
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Leadership communication expert, Marion Grobb Finkelstein shows leaders at any level how to build resilient and respectful workplaces by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at or and sign up for her FREE “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

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Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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