Positivity for Performance

  • Article
  • 23 June 2021

Do people with a positive attitude perform better at work? Anecdotally, people who have higher levels of positivity have greater job satisfaction and, as a result, perform better. Research also supports this.

Happy employees, in general, are three times more creative than unhappy employees, have higher levels of productivity (31%), and have 35% higher sales. However, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude, given the stress of high-performance cultures where there is more than enough work to go around. Creating happy employees is not necessarily the goal of organization; it is making a profit, serving shareholders, and achieving quarterly results targets.

To consciously create an environment where people are happy? That’s not usually the intent.

How can we as employees generate and maintain a positive attitude? Don’t genetics, the environment you grew up in, and if you’re an introvert or extrovert have an impact? And, isn’t your level of positivity hard wired when you are young?

Research has found that you can train your brain to be more positive, similar to how you train your

muscles at the gym. There is evidence that the brain has the ability to change, even in adulthood. As we develop new habits, new circuits are created in the brain.

Some techniques for staying positive on the job:

  1. Recognize when you are moving into negativity. Ask yourself, “what is my mind focusing on and how does this serve me?” If the negativity doesn’t serve you, and most often it doesn’t, attempt to stop the negative thinking at that time. If that doesn’t work, move on to #2.
  2. Reduce the impact of the negativity. Our minds form patterns based on repetition. The more we allow the patterns to cycle through, the stronger our thinking. You can create new patterns by consciously changing your thinking. For example, if you are thinking about a discussion that did not go well and are dwelling on it, refocus your attention to a discussion that did go well and apply what you learned to the current situation. As we change our object of attention from negative to positive, we can reduce the influence of our negative thoughts.
  3. Over time, we would like to remove or abandon the pattern altogether. When we create new patterns in our brain, we override the old patterns. That doesn’t mean that the patterns no longer exist.

With refocusing we’ve made the positive patterns stronger, reducing the negative. Research has shown that these patterns still exist in the brain and the “right” trigger may set them off again, so it is important to be diligent to recognize when we are drifting towards the pattern.

What techniques have you found to be successful in staying positive?

If you’d like to learn more about consciously creating positivity, I would love to hear from you. Contact me at Wilma@transcendmgt.com

Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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