practicing empathy at work

Year of Resilience Tip #11: Think Positive

Positive thinking is not avoiding negative reality, but reframing it so you have the power to make productive change.

This week’s tip is to turn positive thinking into a method for reframing obstacles.

There is a well-established psychological principle that our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes have a significant impact on our behavior and our perception of reality. This principle is often referred to as the “self-fulfilling prophecy,” which suggests that if we believe something to be true, we are more likely to act in ways that make that belief a reality.

You’ve seen this play out in the lives of friends and co-workers. Some seem to always be falling into opportunity and others into constant chaos. While we can’t promise a life of ease and financial abundance from this week’s tip. We can promise that shifting your mindset toward a positive direction and learning to reframe negative situations will improve your resilience and even impact those around you.

Benefits of Positive Thinking

Over the last several decades much research has been done on happiness. This has been an interesting shift for many psychologists and sociologists.  Rather than focusing on the negative and disturbing parts of human nature, groups of psychologists embarked on finding ways to improve happiness and well-being. 

The results of the research have proven to be beneficial. In studying happy and positive people several major benefits for the modern workplace have risen to the surface.

More productive

According to a study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.

This shouldn’t be too surprising. When you are overwhelmed and allow yourself to sink into negativity about challenges it drains your energy and often leads to procrastination.

It doesn’t only apply to project work or daily tasks but has a direct impact on how effective your salespeople are. 

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%.

No one wants to buy from grouchy unhappy people. A key component of the sales process is the initial rapport with a prospect. Positive people immediately are more engaging and connect faster, especially on new sales relationships. 

Deeper engagement at work

With issues of employee retention and engagement at critical levels in workplaces. Anything we can do to move the needle in a positive direction will have a massive impact on bottom-line profits. A Gallup survey found that employees who receive regular recognition and praise have 34% higher engagement levels than those who don’t.

Also, in a study by the University of California, researchers found that positive feedback can lead to increased motivation and better performance among employees.

As a leader, expressing yourself to your teams in a positive language not only increases your work engagement but ripples out into greater productivity for everyone you connect with. 

According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, companies with a positive corporate culture have lower turnover rates and higher employee retention rates.

Learning to think and act positively is a critical quality of leadership that not only supports the growth of your people but improves company metrics as well.

Creative and innovative

Creativity and innovation among leaders and employees allow all of us to solve problems effectively and efficiently. In a study by Harvard Business Review, researchers found that positive emotions lead to more creative and innovative thinking in the workplace.

Every organization needs innovation to succeed and win in the marketplace. Your ability to be innovative is a key element in setting yourself apart from competitors. 

How Does Positive Thinking Work

There is a well-established psychological principle that our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes have a significant impact on our behavior and our perception of reality. This principle is often referred to as the “self-fulfilling prophecy,” which suggests that if we believe something to be true, we are more likely to act in ways that make that belief a reality.

For example, if you believe that you are capable of achieving your goals and that you have the skills and resources necessary to succeed, you are more likely to take proactive steps toward achieving those goals. On the other hand, if you believe that you are destined to fail or that you lack the necessary skills or resources to succeed, you are more likely to give up or not even try in the first place.

In this way, our thoughts and beliefs create a kind of feedback loop, where our beliefs shape our behavior, which in turn reinforces those beliefs. This lead to a self-reinforcing cycle where our thoughts and beliefs become increasingly entrenched over time.

Myths about Positive Thinking

Before we jump into practical ways for becoming more positive, let’s talk about significant misunderstandings about positive thinking. Positive thinking has been a buzzword in the self-help industry for decades. It’s the idea that if we simply focus on the positive, we can manifest our dreams and create a happy life. However, this popular way of thinking is a pitfall to our progress. It’s not about avoiding negative reality, but rather reframing it so we have the power to make productive change. This is not beneficial positive thinking but rather – toxic positivity.

Toxic positivity is the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic attitude. It is the belief that one should always focus on the positive and suppress any negative thoughts or emotions. This is harmful because it ignores the reality of difficult situations and prevents individuals from processing and coping with negative emotions.

To combat this misunderstanding of positive thinking it’s important to acknowledge negative emotions when they arise. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated. These emotions are a natural part of the human experience. Instead of trying to avoid them, we use them to our advantage.

How to Think Positively

Acknowledge Obstacles 

In any job, it is essential to acknowledge that encountering obstacles and negative circumstances is a typical occurrence. These manifest in many forms, such as an uncooperative coworker, a complex project, or a career setback, and they lead to stress and demotivation. By acknowledging reality, you identify ways to learn and improve from these experiences.

One crucial step is accepting mistakes. It is only human to make errors, and it is essential not to dwell on them. Every mistake presents an opportunity to learn and develop. Rather than fixating on the mistake itself, it is more productive to analyze it objectively and determine what can be done differently in the future. By doing so, mistakes are transformed into opportunities for improvement and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Learn to Reframe

Reframing negative situations by focusing on solutions instead of problems transforms your thinking. By shifting your mindset, you find creative solutions to overcome obstacles. To practice reframing, analyze how you process information and retrain your thinking habits to be more positive. Reframing questions help you and your employees see things through a different lens and improve problem-solving skills.

Reframing negative emotions means taking a step back and looking at them from a different perspective. It helps us see them as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of a roadblock. Positive thinking and reframing go hand in hand, as they both involve consciously choosing to focus on the positive aspects of a situation, rather than the negative. Reframing reduces negative emotions, increases feelings of optimism and hope, and improves overall mood and outlook on life.

Combine with Gratitude

Practicing gratitude and positive thinking helps to shift your mindset towards positivity, enabling you to navigate even the most difficult situations. Seek out positive things happening around you, such as the love of your family and friends, the support of your colleagues, and the beauty of nature. By focusing on these positive aspects, you maintain a positive outlook and carry this mindset into the workplace.

While you cannot control everything in life, it is important to focus on the things that you can control. Rather than feeling helpless when things go wrong, become a problem solver and search for ways to improve your situation. If you cannot find a solution, try to learn from the experience and comfort yourself with the knowledge that things can always get better. By focusing on what you can control, you regain a sense of agency and increase your resilience in the face of adversity.

Network Positively

When facing difficult situations, seeking support and feedback from others is crucial to finding effective solutions. Many people are hesitant to ask for help or advice, fearing that it may make them appear weak or incompetent. However, recognizing when you need help and reaching out to others is a sign of strength, not weakness. Seeking guidance from others provides fresh perspectives on the situation, and working together with others leads to creative and innovative solutions that you may not have thought of on your own. Whether it’s seeking feedback from a mentor, brainstorming with colleagues, or asking for assistance from a friend, remember that you do not have to face challenging situations alone.

Surrounding yourself with positive people also has a significant impact on your overall well-being. Positive people help elevate your mood and inspire you to be your best self. They provide you with encouragement, support, and motivation during difficult times. In contrast, negative people drain your energy, bring you down, and make it challenging to stay focused and motivated. Try to cultivate relationships with positive coworkers or friends who share your values and help you achieve your goals. Surrounding yourself with people who uplift and inspire you to navigate through challenges with a more positive outlook and a greater sense of resilience.

Summary

We can learn to navigate the intricate interplay between our thoughts, behavior, and the world around us by fostering self-awareness and critical thinking. As a manager, leader, or team member, negative situations and obstacles are inevitable. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to approach these challenges positively and view them as opportunities for growth and development

Leaders, especially, must possess the essential skill of healthy positive thinking. By concentrating on solutions, cultivating gratitude, reframing negativity, and seeking support from others, leaders can surmount even the toughest challenges and emerge more resilient and stronger than before. So, the next time you encounter an obstacle, take a deep breath, change your thinking, and prepare to tackle it head-on.

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