BY: Tina Hallis
I’ll never forget the day the head of our site stopped by my desk. He said, “Tina, I want to promote you to manager and have you join my leadership team.” My mouth fell open. Me? I was a Senior Scientist at a biotech company leading a small group of scientists. I wasn’t the smartest, the most innovative, or hardest working scientist. Why me?
I finally got up the nerve to ask. I’ll never forget these words. “It’s because you always have a positive attitude and you get along with everyone.” Wow! I never knew that my positivity would make such a difference. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about Positive Psychology and the many benefits of training our minds to get better at seeing the good stuff. Let me share a little with you.
Four Ways Positivity Impacts Your Success
- More resilient
Work is full of challenges and changes out of our control. Being able to take them in stride gives us confidence, the ability to think on our feet, and the mindset that transforms setbacks into opportunities. Higher levels of positivity build our internal resources so we have the ability to bounce back faster, both mentally and physically when things get rough.
- More motivated
When are you more motivated? When you’re stressed, upset, or frustrated? Or when you feel upbeat, optimistic and calm? Negativity drains our energy. We often feel more tired and less interested in our work. We may even dread going to the office each day. Positive people naturally have a higher energy level that allows them to tackle big projects, take risks and be more productive. They get noticed because of their can-do attitude and high efficiency.
- Achieve more goals
When managers and leaders see an employee that gets things done despite challenges and setbacks, they want that person on their most valued projects. Being positive allows us to pursue our goals with tenacity and determination but also gives us the flexibility to look for other options when needed so we can bypass obstacles and overcome failures.
- Nicer to work with
When we’re upbeat and optimistic, people enjoy being around us and want us on their teams and projects. This opens doors to new opportunities. It also helps us build better relationships with our peers, which drives collaboration and effective communication.
Four Strategies to Increase Your Positivity
- Remember positive moments in your day
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to come home from work and vent about all the problems we had with customers, colleagues, traffic, etc.? This is common because our brains naturally focus on the things we don’t like. However, we can train our minds to get better at noticing the good things by creating a routine of intentionally taking time each evening to reflect back and think of something positive that happened. When we share these or journal about them, we are physically changing the neural connections in our brains to get better at noticing the good all around us. These can be simple, little things like having time for your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning, crossing something off your “to do” list, or being on a project with a colleague you enjoy working with.
- Purposely add positive moments to your day
We don’t need to wait for something good to happen; we can make it happen. Again, these can be simple things like smiling at more people (and having them smile back), doing something nice for someone whether it’s offering to help them with a project or just asking how they’re doing. It could be taking time for a quick walk outside and getting some fresh air. Or maybe it’s listening to one of your favorite songs. When we add something positive, we should savor it. By noticing how good we feel and letting the feeling last, we are helping to reinforce those new connections in our brains and making them stronger.
- Use challenges at work as opportunities to learn and grow
It’s natural to get upset and frustrated, maybe even mad, when things happen that we don’t like. In the moment, it’s hard not to feel these negative emotions, but in the NEXT moment we can ask ourselves different questions. Instead of “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” consider these questions instead:
- How can I learn from this?
- How does this make me stronger, better, smarter?
- How does this help me relate to others better?
When we look back at our lives, we realize that it was those rough situations that helped to build our resilience and our belief in ourselves.
- Change your story
Have you ever found yourself jumping to the worst conclusion? Interestingly, this is normal, and it’s been an important part of our evolution to help us survive, but it can cause us a lot of unnecessary stress in today’s world. An example is the story we tell ourselves when someone doesn’t return our phone call or email. It could be your boss or even a friend. We are wired to assume that the person is blowing us off and doesn’t care about us. A great way to change our story is to use the ABCD approach.
A = Action (Your boss doesn’t respond to your email asking for time off.)
B = Belief (You believe they must be an uncaring jerk.)
C = Consequences (You get mad at them for being such a jerk and feel unappreciated.)
D = Dispute (You can dispute your belief and remind yourself that you don’t know why they didn’t respond. They could be distracted and stressed by some crisis happening in their work or life or just forgetful).
Disputing your belief creates different consequences or emotions because you can make up a different story that lets you feel compassion and hope that they are OK or patience for their faults. Instead of getting defensive, you can ask them if there is a problem.
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is founder and owner of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping individuals and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.