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staying relentlessly positive Positivity Game Set Match Nick Kyrgios wimbledon

Positivity: game, set and match

A client asked recently on a media training course:

“Is there an alternative to the relentless positivity you promote?”

I teased:

“Well there’s relentless negativity.”

And of course I was joking.

I then explained why positivity is the answer.

Anyway, who would think for a minute that negativity was a good idea?

Or so I thought.

Until I watched the most negative news conference imaginable at Wimbledon.

But who was sitting under a big black cloud?

Read on.

The court battle

staying relentlessly positive roger federer

The world’s best tennis players could all have a second career.

Roger Federer.

Rafael Nadal.

Novak Djokovic.

Andy Murray.

They all could have been successful in the diplomatic corps.

Because they’re humble in victory.

Generous in defeat.

They blame themselves rather than their opponents or officials.

But Nick Kyrgios is a different kettle of fish.

His defeat to Nadal was a splendid match with some needle.

At one point the Australian aimed a shot at the Spaniard’s chest.

Nadal looked displeased.

In the post-match news conference, a reporter asked if he should have apologised.

Kyrgios replied:

“Why should I apologise?

“I won the point.”

The reporter asked:

“He didn’t look too pleased:”

Kyrgios hit back:


The reporter continued:

“You seemed to wind him up.”

Kyrgios responded again:

“I don’t care.

“Why would I apologise?

“I mean, the dude’s got how many slams (major titles)?

“How much money in the bank balance?

“I think he can take a ball in the chest, right?

“Ain’t gonna apologise at all.”

But the rant was far from over:

“I was going for him yeah.

“I wanted to hit him square in the chest.”

Finished with Rafa, he turned his venom on the match official:

“The umpire today was horrendous, he was terrible.

“Little bit of a power trip there.

“Obviously feels important up there in the chair.”

So here we have relentless negativity as the alternative to positivity.

The result

Positivity Game Set Match Nick Kyrgios staying relentlessly positive

So what does it achieve?

Three things, I believe:

  1. It makes opponents more determined to beat him
  2. Officials are less likely to cut him slack
  3. It reduces the likelihood of tennis fans backing him against opponents


Because we’re attracted to positivity and repelled by negativity.

Think of people around you at work or in your social circle.

What do you feel about people who remain upbeat when life deals them a bad card?

What do you feel about people who insist on moaning when there seems little to complain about?

Negativity vs positivity

Positivity Game Set Match Nick Kyrgios staying relentlessly positive

We can break negativity into three areas:

  • Disregard for people’s feelings
  • Criticism of others
  • Finding problems, rather than solutions

In our media training courses and presentation skills courses at our Glasgow studios and across the world, our message is clear.

Negativity attracts unfavourable headlines.

Negativity winds up your critics.

People dislike being criticised publicly.

Negative language is a turn off.

But by contrast, positivity can also attract headlines.

It calms down your critics.

People love the generosity of praise.

Positive language can inspire.

The mistake business leaders, sports stars and celebrities can make with journalists is believing they’re in a personal battle to win a point.

As Kygios had been with Nadal a short time before.

The real battle is to win respect.

From the audience who watch the contest between reporter and interviewee.

Staying relentlessly positive

staying relentlessly positive Positivity Game Set Match Nick Kyrgios

So let’s try the news conference exchange again.

Firstly, should he apologise?

Kyrgios’ reply:

“No, it’s part of the game.

“I expect also to take shots directed at me.”

The reporter responds:

“He didn’t look too pleased.”

Kyrgios answers:

“Rafa’s very experienced in these situations.

“He knows we all aim at the body on occasions.”

The reporter continues:

“You seemed to wind him up.”

Kyrgios replies:

“He’s too wise for that.

“Look at the titles he’s won by staying calm.”

With all that in mind, let’s ask my client’s question one more time:

“Is there any alternative to the relentless positivity you promote?”


Positivity will beat negativity any day of the week

Game, set and match.

Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can read his full profile here.


Photos by rhurril / CC BY / Carine06 / CC BY-SA / SportsFanaticAustralia / CC BY / superseb694 / CC BY / on

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