Whether you find yourself in the C-suite or on the factory floor, positive thinking at work is a very powerful skill. Not only does a positive attitude help you overcome adversity, but it also increases coping abilities, increases feelings of joy, enhances the immune system and improves financial success. For example, one landmark study by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic sales professionals outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, “We become more successful when we are happier and more positive. For example, doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19% faster.” In another survey, optimists were 40% more likely to get promoted over the next year, six times more likely to be highly engaged at work and five times less likely to burn out than pessimists.
Positive thinking isn’t something people are just born with. Instead, it is something that you can learn over time. You can exercise your positivity muscle just as easily as your abs at the gym. But to reap the benefits of positive thinking at work, it takes consistent practice. So let’s look at five small ways to embrace a positive attitude that can make a big difference in the workplace.
Research shows that employees are motivated to do their best when they feel appreciated. Not only that, but gratitude at work creates a domino effect within the organization. Showing appreciation towards someone will likely inspire them to “pay it forward” and thank others. For example, instead of starting a meeting with boring introductions, ask people to share something they are grateful for. You can also recognize employees who go out of their way to help a co-worker. Another idea is to create a 10-day gratitude challenge. That way, you can encourage employees to express gratitude through small daily actions. For example, one day, you might ask employees to do something nice for a co-worker and another day, you could ask them to write down five things they appreciate about their boss. The possibilities are endless.
Celebrate small wins
Rather than waiting for the end of the quarter or performance review time, celebrate small wins along the way. Try to focus on progress rather than perfection. Set a goal and then take the smallest step imaginable towards achieving it. By focusing on more minor achievements rather than the end result, you become motivated by perceiving progress.
Recognize your team
Connecting with others in a meaningful way helps you to cultivate positive thinking at work. One way is by emailing a co-worker and thanking them for their help or support. Public shout-outs are another effective recognition technique. That’s because acknowledging your teammates in a public forum inspires and motivates people while rewarding specific team members for a job well done. You can do this at a company meeting, through an email newsletter, or even via a Slack channel dedicated to building camaraderie and boosting morale.
Treat co-workers with empathy
Given the events of the last two years, there is no such thing as showing too much compassion at work. Avoid miscommunication by clearly sharing what you’re feeling in the moment. If you are feeling stressed, let your colleagues know you have a lot on your plate and are struggling to keep up. That way, they will understand your perspective if you come across as tense or anxious. This is also a good time to check in with others. Take a few minutes out of your day to ask someone how they are and if there is anything you can do to help. If you get an email that seems blunt or aggressive, don’t assume the person is that way intentionally. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt by thinking the best instead of expecting the worst.
Focus on what you can control
If you are a perfectionist or micromanager, you may have trouble relinquishing control at work. But letting go of things you cannot control is essential to remain happy and productive. You can’t be responsible for how other people behave, but you can control how you react. In fact, there will be times when all you can control are your attitude and the effort you put in. When you feel anxious, ask yourself what you are afraid will happen. Often, the worst-case scenario isn’t as bad as you might think. It also helps to develop healthy mantras like, “I can do this,” or “I can handle it.” Affirmations like these will help you combat self-doubt and keep you mentally fit.
Positive thinking at work helps decision-making, facilitates interaction and increases resiliency. While it doesn’t guarantee that everything will go your way, it will help put obstacles into perspective. Positivity also has an impact on others. That’s because it’s infectious and, over time, can influence your co-workers. So instead of waiting for your work culture to change, take matters into your own hands. By putting these strategies into practice, you’ll soon see how you are able to change the world and the people around you.