We’ve all experienced people who exude positive energy – they bring a brightness to any situation, are usually successful at what they do, and they don’t seem to be so phased when things go wrong.
Organisations benefit greatly from these optimistic individuals, wherever they work in the company, and at top leadership level it’s a powerful vitality that can spread out across the different levels and units. Positivity is infectious, influencing and motivating, bringing wellbeing and causing many beneficial knock-on effects.
There are many things we can all do to boost our levels of positive-mindedness. Here are five key ones:
What we carry with us at any point in time is a result of core beliefs, values, experience – in short, our unique ‘map of reality’ with which we navigate our daily world.
Our individual maps are the reason why one person might look at a situation very differently to another. For example, one might view the leaving of a key person as detrimental to the business, one of their highest values being loyalty, whilst another may view it as an opportunity for change and fresh ideas because they value innovation. Both valid viewpoints, based on priority values.
Our beliefs drive our behaviour, but they may not always serve us well. As Edward de Bono stated “A belief is a perceptual framework which leads us to see the world in a way that reinforces that framework. The circularity is a very natural function of a self-organizing patterning system, so beliefs are very easy to form. In a sense ‘belief’ is the truth of a perceptual system. When you burn your finger at a fire only once in a lifetime, you are operating a belief system…Your initial trauma creates a belief that prevents you from ever contradicting that belief, so the circularity is established.”
To manage our mind and turn around those unhelpful beliefs, we need to investigate our map of reality by:
Studies show that emotions pay a huge part in our daily lives. Yet our cultures, generational preferences and early influences have all had a part in whether or not we are in the habit (or even aware of the benefits) of tapping into them for the wisdom they contain.
The problem is we do too much thinking. Of course we need to apply focused thought when working on ideas, data, plans, etc. but often our overthinking gets in the way, especially when it involves people. Assumptions, judgements, exaggerations all hamper what we take in with our senses.
Feelings, on the other hand, are like our barometer and when we take notice, they can lead us towards the source of the solution, and a way to better decisions.
To harness our feelings we need to notice the first signs of agitation, then:
Getting into the habit of that process whenever we get unnerved can help us learn what our body is telling us, bypassing the often confusing and negative thought process going on in our minds and giving us a positive approach to meeting our need in a different way to our usual automatic response.
It’s equally powerful for us to take notice of others’ feelings, in our interactions with people. In a simple process of empathy, particularly important during any potential conflict situation, we can choose to put aside our ego momentarily in order to ‘transpose’ ourselves into the other’s situation, to try and feel what that person might be feeling and experiencing. What can ensue when this happens is a delicate change of stance within us, maybe even a slight softening, which can influence the way we verbally respond, and in turn have a positive effect on the other.
There may be a list of corporate ‘values’ posted on the walls and website of the organisation, with a pledge to respect and value employees, but when push comes to shove over strategic decisions, it’s often the needs of the business that prevail. As the entrepreneur Peter Jones says, ‘a business is nothing without its people’, and a successful leader needs to put the needs of employees up alongside those of the business.
Dr Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication) talks about key basic universal human needs: ‘regardless of our many differences, we all have the same needs. What differs is the strategy for fulfilling these needs.‘ Looking at some of the key ones he lists e.g. security, contribution, growth, respect, autonomy, effectiveness, it’s apparent that employees’ and organisations’ needs are very similar.
To ensure all needs are taken into consideration:
The words we choose are so much more important than the credit we give them. Words have the power to lift up and to put down. Indeed it is the choice of our own and others’ words which have contributed to our beliefs in the past, be they helpful or not so helpful. And it follows that choosing every word carefully is an important task.
Some simple things we can do include:
It is well documented that gratitude goes a long way. Thanking someone is a simple act that can give an immeasurable boost, with knock-on effects.
And on a personal note, how many times do you find yourself bemoaning the ‘to do’ list at the end of the day, with all the entries that haven’t yet been ticked? Turn it around and congratulate yourself on those that have been ticked – even if there is only one – and muse on all the ramifications that one action may have had.
When we focus on what we have done rather than what we haven’t, it soon starts to have a beneficial effect on the mind.
Penelope Newton-Hurley is a Communication Troubleshooter,Consultant, Trainer and Mediator
The Communication Troubleshooter helps drive engagement and performance through Emotional Intelligence and CommPassion© Communication techniques.
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