Learn what it means to be positive at work, and why you, your team, and organization could benefit from it.
- What exactly is positivity and why does it matter? Well, let me introduce you to Positive Paula and Negative Nelly. These two women are both smart, competent and equally hard working but there's one huge difference. When Positive Paula goes to work talk centers on what others have recently accomplished, how nice the weather is today, how appreciative she is of others. When Negative Nelly goes to work we hear how overwhelmed she is, how awful traffic was getting to the office and how stupid the recent management decisions were.
Paula sees the proverbial glass as half full and Nelly sees it as half empty. Paula has an affirmative bias, that is she chooses to focus on human potential and strengths. Nelly chooses to focus on problems and weaknesses. You might argue that Negative Nelly is the realist, that she is quick to see potential threats or problems that Positive Paula misses, so let me be clear, being positive in the workplace does not mean you have your head in the sand or that you ignore unpleasant realities or problems.
It's just that when you see a problem, you kick into solution mode rather than despair. You aren't so nicety nice that you never give anyone critical feedback but you balance constructive criticism with praise. Positivity is a well-researched way to get better results in the workplace while enjoying your life to its fullest. Why would being positive matter? For most of us, we'd much rather be around a Positive Paula but positive effects go far beyond the company we keep.
Kim Cameron in his book Positive Leadership cites over 40 studies illustrating consistent and convincing evidence that positive practices like those you'll learn in this course actually produce health benefits. Positivity helps us be more creative. When people are asked to imagine an optimistic future, more areas of the brain light up during MRIs than when people focus on a negative or neutral future.
In other words, our brains work better when we think positively. Now let's imagine Paula and Nelly as managers or team leaders. Research out of the UC Berkeley School of Business found that managers with greater positivity were more accurate in decisions, they were more effective interpersonally and they infect positivity into their entire team. Athletes who were asked by their coaches to review successful recordings of themselves improve their performance at a significantly higher level than athletes who were asked to review unsuccessful attempts.
This fascinating study was reported in the Journal of Sport Psychology and what it means for us is that when we focus on successes rather than failures, our performance gets better. Health, creativity, effective leadership, enhanced performance, all of these benefits just by choosing your thoughts carefully and perhaps the most important reason for you to become more like Positive Paula is simply this, you deserve to experience positive emotions, joy, love, gratitude, that's a benefit in and of itself.
Hopefully I've convinced you that becoming a more positive person has nothing but upsides for you. So, let's take a look at your current level of positivity.
To gain fresh insights and celebrate your positivity wins with other learners, you can participate in the official LinkedIn group group for this course.
- Identify the behaviors associated with particular positivity practices.
- Recall the properties of an active-constructive response.
- Differentiate between a weakness-focus (performance gap) and a strength-based-focus.
- Identify the best positivity strategy for use in particular situations.
- Distinguish between a healthy practice of affirmative bias (positivity) and an unhealthy practice of ignoring threats, challenges, or conflict.