Glass half full or half empty – Does it really matter?

It’s the classic psychology question that’s been knocking about for decades now that is supposed to indicate if you are an optimistic or a pessimistic person.

Do you think the glass is half full or half empty?

I am sure you have heard this before but for the uninitiated, the presupposition is that if someone answers the question with half full then they are looking at it from a positive frame of mind and they are an optimist. However, if someone replies half empty then they are a pessimist and are looking at it from a more negative frame of mind. It’s a battle between optimism and pessimism with only one winner each time.

In fact, as this question has been about for so long we now have a conditioned response to this as we seek to portray that we are a positive person as very few people want to be described as negative and pessimistic. It’s literally lost its power over time as an effective measure of how someone perceives a situation and conditioning from society has taken over.

Surely now is the time to ask a better question? Surely it doesn’t matter how the person portrays the glass? In a work situation, what matters most, a glass half empty or half full or how that person performs at work and how this person interacts with the rest of your staff? In a personal situation, would you rather have someone treat you with manners and respect or would you rather they said they were a half full person? I know which one I would choose.

My response to this question is it doesn’t matter, I want to know how I can get my glass filled up again as quickly as possible? How can I maximise the glass in front of me to make it full of something better than I currently have? How can I fill it with champagne when I have Prosecco (slightly less important but you get my point). These are the best responses and this what I would look for someone who I was going to employ. If you asked the question in an interview and they thought for a few seconds and then said half full, that wouldn’t tell me anything. I want them to respond fluidly and without prompting that they want to get the glass full, no matter what. That is the person I would be looking to employ as they are the right person to fit into a driven business situation.

Glass is full

My wife would describe me as an optimist and herself as a realist, someone who sees things for what they really are. In the end, it doesn’t matter which way you look at life, it matters more about what you do with what you have got.

Go and fill your glass up and don’t worry if its half empty for you, you still have the same opportunity to fill that glass as the optimist.