Recently, my dear friend had a series of "bad" days at work. She is one of the most upbeat people I know and she said to me, "my positivity is in the basement!". She was referring to her Gallup's StrenghtsFinder theme, she and I both have "Positivity" as our top theme. The negativity and bad attitudes of others were definitely testing her. It made me start thinking about what happens to a positive person when the negative starts to take over.
What does Positivity mean: "You are generous with praise, quick to smile and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation...People want to be around you...your enthusiasm is contagious...You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit...You celebrate every achievement...You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital...You believe that one must never lose one's sense of humor." (Taken from Gallup's Talent Theme descriptions)
So, if positivity is contagious then what is negativity? I think negativity is more than contagious, I think it is toxic. It is toxic to you, your organization and everyone around you. It seeps into all those people and places and wreaks havoc. We've all worked with an Eeyore. (Eeyore is the miserable character from Winnie the Pooh who is gloomy, pessimistic, depressed and doesn't have anything nice to say about anyone.) That pitiful Negative Nancy who thinks the world is out to get her, who thinks everyone is stupid and doesn't have anything positive to say about anything or anyone. Eeyore's suck the life out of you and drain you of all your energy and patience. If you spend too much time with an Eeyore you might begin to buy into her sad story and start huffing and puffing at other people as well. TOXIC!
The Gallup Organization has done some amazing research on employee engagement (see more here) and identifies three types of employees: Engaged, Not Engaged and Actively Disengaged. If Eeyore worked within an organization instead of wandering around the Hundred Acre Woods he might well be defined as "Actively Disengaged". Always negative, shooting down great ideas, looking for faults and stirring up trouble. No-one wants to be around an Eeyore and you certainly don't want to be one!
So, how do you stay Positive at work?
- Work to your strengths. Spend the majority of your day working in your areas of natural talents and strengths. Shoot for 75% of your time engaging your strengths. You will increase your confidence and be a happier person. Not sure what your talents and strengths are? Take the StrengthsFinder assessment to learn more about it.
- Stay away from Eeyore's. This is office politics 101 - stay away from the actively disengaged people at work. They are negative about EVERYTHING and are only engaged with being miserable and blaming others for their misery. At the very least they will drain you of any enthusiasm you have and get on your last nerve, and at the worst they will pull you into their drama until people assume you are just like them. Don't hang around people who only have a bad attitude to share.
- Love your job. If you don't, figure out how to fall in love with it. Talk with your supervisor about your strengths and the ways you would like to engage those strengths in your current position or with your organization. Reflect on why you took the job to begin with. Are you passionate about the job or what you do? You have to try to be a solution to your problems. If you can't find the passion you need to love your job - then find another job! You don't want to be looking for a job when you are miserable and acting like an Eeyore, potential new employers can spot that a mile away. Find out what ignites your passions and follow that path. Everyone will be much happier (you, your boss, your friends and family) when you love your job. We spend too much time at our jobs to not love what we do everyday.
- Smile! Practice gratitude and kindness. It will come back to you. Smiles are contagious and make you a more friendly and likable person.
- Make a friend. Research conducted by The Gallup Organization says that having a friend at work is one of the 12 elements of employee engagement. Successful organizations all have one thing in common, that one thing is TRUST. Successful organizations have a culture of trust. Friends trust each other, look out for each other, share values with each other and support each other. Everyone works better in an environment of trust because it creates confidence, security and productivity.
- Learn and grow. Take charge of your professional and personal development - continue to learn and grow. Take on new projects that excite and engage you. This is a great way to shake things up and see what else inspires you and see your talents play out in other ways. It's easier to stay positive about new and exciting projects. Take risks and don't be afraid to take on new challenges. These will lead you down paths you aren't even aware of right now.
What suggestions do you have for staying positive at work?