The power of positivity.
‘You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind’ - John Meyers.
Negativity and bad energy are contagious. Everyone knows that feeling when someone in a bad mood walks in the room. It is a natural instinct to mirror those around us including their body language and facial expressions.
Unfortunately, negative events and emotions have a far greater impact on our brains than positive ones (referred to as the negativity bias) and can influence our decision making. The evolutionary perspective suggests that this tendency to dwell on the negative more than the positive is simply one way the brain tries to keep us safe, but in the modern world it can have a damaging effect to our mental wellbeing.
The good news is that positivity is also contagious.
‘If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. ‘ – Shawn Achar
If you translate this into leadership, it is clear that positivity is crucial for team success.
How can you promote positivity as a leader?
The PERMA model represents the 5 teachable and measurable elements of positive psychology. One of the five elements is positive relationships.
As humans we need, neurologically, to know that we belong to a group as it helps us feel safe and valued and has done for millions of years. As a leader, it is important to focus on building meaningful relationships and promoting the importance of quality relationships within your team.
Organisational psychologist Dr Paige Williams explains that expressing genuine care – or what is called companionate love – for your employees results in significant improvements in engagement, performance, and wellbeing levels. Something which is more important now than ever before.
4 ways to share the companionate love
1. Have active constructive interactions
Make sure you focus on having constructive instead of destructive and active instead of passive interactions. If you focus on offering active and constructive responses to the people in your life, you will find yourself feeling more positive as well as receiving positive feedback from others. In other words, you will create a cycle of positivity.
2. Express gratitude
Steve Maraboli said, ‘If you want to find happiness, find gratitude’. Gratitude evokes strong feelings of positivity in the person who gives it and the person who receives it and is a great buffer against negative emotions such as envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. People who are frequently grateful are:
· More energetic
· More hopeful
· Experience more frequent positive emotions
Build a culture that cultivates gratitude and appreciation. Employees that are appreciated will be empowered and inevitably do more great work.
3. Create opportunities to laugh together
Humour is a very powerful tool in the workplace. Evidence suggests that it builds trust, forges bonds among colleagues, helps us cope with stress, and inspires creativity and problem solving. In short, laughter is the secret weapon for building great teams.
4. Encourage learning
Create an environment which promotes a growth mindset. A growth mindset means you believe your talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others). People with a growth mindset tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset. Make sure your team are not afraid to ask questions, present new ideas and try new things. This will not only result in innovation and creativity within the business, but it will also build trust between your team.