The Negative-Positive Response Model (NPR)

Previously, I wrote about toxic negativity and toxic positivity. In this article, I present the Negative-Positive Response Model (NPR), a 2x2 model for dealing with problems and contradictions. This model contrasts three ineffective ways of responding to problems with a progress-focused attitude.

Let's start with the three ineffective ways of dealing with problems and contradictions.

1. Toxic negativity

Toxic negativity is an excessively and unrealistically negative attitude that is paralyzing and unrealistic. This attitude often hinders us from achieving our goals due to thinking styles such as pessimism, cynicism, defeatism, fatalism, doom thinking, and the fixed mindset. These thinking styles cause us to become inactive and focus on problems instead of solutions. This often leaves us passive and trapped in our negative thoughts, hindering our progress and well-being.

2. Toxic positivity

Toxic positivity holds that only thinking and feeling positive is good, and that expressing negative thoughts and feelings is bad, even in situations of loss, adversity, or hardship. This can lead to unresolved problems and suppressed emotions, making people feel misunderstood and misunderstood. It may also happen that people do not seek help and feel isolated. Ultimately, this can result in guilt, shame, and a negative self-image.

3. Paralyzing passivity

Paralyzing passivity involves people not acting or avoiding action due to feelings of helplessness or indifference. This attitude leads to stagnation and missed opportunities. People in this attitude see no opportunities to improve or grow and remain trapped in a state of inactivity and apathy. This hinders personal and professional growth and can lead to long-term dissatisfaction and a feeling of meaninglessness.

The Negative-Positive Response Model (NPR)

The Negative-Positive Response Model divides responses and attitudes along two axes:

  • Axis 1 describes attention for the positive (left side: no attention, right side: attention).
  • Axis 2 describes attention to the negative (top: no attention, right side: attention).

Here is a visual representation of the model along with the three above-mentioned ways of dealing with problems and contradictions. There is also a fourth way: the progress-focused attitude.

4. The progress-focused attitude

A progress-focused attitude is a realistic and constructive approach in which you make room for and acknowledge the negative, and then think beyond the negative and focus on meaningful progress already achieved and to be achieved further. Here are seven elements of the progress-focused attitude:

  1. Provide space for the negative: explicitly acknowledge and name negative perceptions without ignoring or downplaying them.
  2. Acknowledge and normalize: show understanding and normalize negative perceptions.
  3. Formulate the need for progress: identify that there is a need for meaningful progress in the specific context.
  4. Focus on progress already achieved: discuss what has already been achieved, what works well and how this was achieved (including previous successes).
  5. Describe the desired progress in positive terms.
  6. Think of a step forward: identify the next feasible step towards the desired situation.
  7. Monitor progress: think of a way to see progress and make adjustments.

The progress-focused attitude contributes to:

  • A healthy balance between positive and negative emotions.
  • Effective problem solving and growth.
  • Strong and supportive relationships.


By applying the NPR model, you can deal more effectively with negative and positive information, and develop a constructive and progress-focused approach. With a progress-focused attitude, problems are taken seriously and at the same time seen as opportunities for improvement and growth. By focusing on what is going well and what can be achieved, positive perceptions, emotions, and motivation are strengthened, leading to better cooperation and a constructive approach to challenges. This is valuable for both personal and professional growth and relationships.