Positive Psychology has been gaining momentum in the past decade — and rightly so. Research has shown that one of the strongest factors behind resilience (the ability to bounce back from setbacks) is a positive attitude. More importantly, studies have supported the idea that a culture of empathy and compassion results in greater — and better! — output than traditional reward systems. Indeed, gearing company culture towards positivity is a sound business decision.
So how can you do your bit towards creating positivity in the workplace? Consider the following tips.
Commit to at least one act of kindness a day.
If you’re like most people, you’re working grueling hours in high pressure environments. This means that the focus is often on finishing a task or meeting a goal. When this happens, the emotional well-being of staff members takes a backseat.
But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve your team’s mood. Committing to simple act of kindness a day, such as leaving an encouraging note in your workmate’s cubicle or making a harassed partner a cup of coffee, can go a long way in alleviating the group’s stress. It goes both ways. When you’re kind to others, other people will also be responsive to your low moments. Over-all, it’s win-win!
Focus on progress, not results.
One common source of negativity is the focus on unmet goals. We all have personal goals, usually set at the beginning of the year, that details what we want to accomplish in life. We also have key result areas (KRAs) at work that we need to meet. But sadly, these standards are not always met — even when we exert our best effort. If you’re achievement-oriented (and there’s nothing wrong with ambition), failing to hit the target can be devastating.
Positivity means being gentle with yourself in the face of failures and setbacks. Focus on progress — even when goals are not met, for sure you’re no longer in the same place where you started. Look at the things that went right, not just the things that went wrong. When you know that you’re moving forward, slowly but surely is not a bad thing.
Mind your language.
The language we use reflects our attitudes, and the more we use language that dismisses other people’s hard work, the more we lower the mood. Now while this sounds common sense, the reality is: it’s difficult to be mindful of everything that comes out of our mouth. How many of us have used the word “always,” for example, when criticizing someone (“you’re always late!”)? That simple adverb implies that the person has done nothing right. Being specific and effort-oriented (“for 3 instances, you did not meet the agreed work hour start”) takes the sting off a dressing down, and creates room for improvement.
Expect the best from everyone.
There’s a classic experiment in educational psychology that proves how expectations can lead to better results. A teacher was told that one classroom is filled with gifted students while another classroom is filled with average pupils. The teacher was then asked to instruct both classes using the same syllabus. Guess what? As the teacher expected, the classroom with the gifted students performed better than the other class. What the teacher didn’t know, however, is that both classes had students with similar average IQs and aptitude scores. It’s actually her expectations of greatness that made the difference!
When we expect the best from people, we open our minds to their potentials, not just their limitations. We become more encouraging, more patient, even more invested than we normally are. Teammates who are optimistic about their peers’ performance provide inspiration for others to go the extra mile. It’s hard to get motivated when you know that your workmate/boss is just waiting for you to fail.
Lastly, set aside personal burdens when you step inside the office.
We all have stress from our personal lives: bills that need to be paid, relationships that have lost their spark, children who stay up until the dead of the night. But if you take these problems to work, you effectively contaminate two areas of your life with negativity. Mulling over things you have no control over is simply a waste of energy. Taking work stress home with you has the same effect.
Emotional contagion is a real thing. You may not say a word about what you’re going through, but those around you will feel the heaviness of what you carry. Go for a smile; it may feel hypocritical at first, but you’d be surprised at how easily it can lift your mood. For all you know, a little lightness in spirit is exactly what you need! Giving worries a break opens you to a fresher perspective. At the very least it would give you a few moments of rest before you tackle your problems!