When you think about the attributes that you might need for success in your career, what comes to mind? A good degree? Knowing the right people? An excellent CV? The ability to multitask? These are all important and will give you a head start, but never underestimate the power of positivity. Not only will having a good attitude towards whatever is thrown your way keep you sane, it will also give you that workplace boost you need. It really can improve your career prospects and ensure you have fun while you're at it.
Psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson is an expert on positivity and has published a paper on how being positive can impact on your work. She states that our brains are designed to respond to negative emotions by shutting off everything around us - making us focus on the negative and ignore the positive choices we could be making. The more we do this, the more intuitive and automatic it becomes.
However, when it comes to positive emotions our brains open up to many more opportunities, thoughts and ideas. We become more creative and see a world of possibilities that others simply may not see. The more positive we are, the more resources we build to help us deal with challenges later in life and these skills outlast the feeling of positivity by some margin.
Negativity makes your world smaller, while positivity makes it larger. In the world of work, this can have a huge impact; brainstorming will allow that positivity to flow, meetings will become productive and creative, problems will be met head on and even difficult colleagues will be met with a good attitude. Positive thoughts will take you from that first interview through to retirement with a true sense of fulfillment - and how many people can really say that about their jobs?
So, how does one get this positivity into their lives? It doesn’t just happen overnight. Like any skill that you learn at work, you need to practise being positive. Like any brain activity, repetition builds neurons and creates new pathways that will establish positive feelings - even without you really thinking about it. Our positivity tips might seem hard at first, but before you know it, you'll be doing it in your sleep.
Seek out positive people
Positivity rubs off. We all know that feeling of being brought down by a negative Nancy and it works in reverse. Someone who is relentlessly positive will make you feel that way too. At work you can’t always choose who you will be working alongside, but if they are negative, try to limit exposure. However, the positive ones are worth that Friday evening trip to the pub.
Feed your mind
Podcasts, music, radio shows, comedy TV, self help books and positivity gurus. Try to seek out and use the information that is all around us. Discover ways to feed your positive mind and to discover the secrets of naturally positive people. Its keeps your mind focused on what you want to be.
Think about language
When you talk to people at work, write an email or author a report, think carefully about the language you are using. Are you framing it in a positive way or are you (without even noticing it) focusing on the negative. Try not to use words like don’t, no, less than or hard. Try to think and communicate in terms of yes, will, more than and easy.
Everyone has days at work when everything seems to go wrong and how you react will mark you out as positive or negative. It might seem daft at times to put a positive spin on something like half the office being made redundant or a huge mistake that cost thousands. But it is possible to be concerned, respectful and empathetic while seeing that it isn’t necessarily the end of the world. It is about developing a sense of perspective - if you can’t do that a negative spiral will quickly envelop you.
Positivity may not be a skill that you put on your CV or one that you can do a training course on, but it is something that will shine out of you if you are sincere. Be that person that everyone wants to be around and your career will fly. All it takes is a little practise.