Working with my clients, I find most to be pretty positive and upbeat already. Yet when I tell them we need to improve their positive to negative ratio, most agree without hesitation. Everybody seems to want to enjoy more positive moments.
I find this research fascinating because it was done by actually observing business teams interacting during real meetings.
For years, organizational psychologist Marcial Losada, PhD, studied the characteristics of high-performing business teams. As part of his work, he designed a meeting room to capture the real-time behavior of business teams in action.
What good are positive emotions in the workplace? This is a question scientists have studied well. Research actually points us to two good reasons to encourage positivity as a leader.
Unlike negative emotions, which narrow our focus with respect to possible actions, positive emotions achieve the opposite: They open us. Positivity expands our social, physical and cognitive resources.
When I started my career at AT&T, I had a boss (who will remain nameless), who was brilliant technically but did not turn his chair around to face you when you were talking to him. He had his computer on the table behind his desk and would face the screen and continue typing for the duration of many 1:1 meetings I had with him (notice I did not say face 2 face meetings). I like to focus on positive learning and one thing I learned from him was how to read body language, even while staring at the back of someone’s head!
Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been intrigued about the research about happiness and peak performance from the new field of Positive Psychology. But like many of my clients, I’ve been waiting for someone to connect the dots between just “feeling good,” and bottom line results in business.
Priming the Positivity Pump
A positive frame of mind is needed for success at just about anything. In fact, research from positive psychology shows that the tipping point for flourishing is to have a positive to negative ration of 3 to 1.
Let’s say you’ve got a task you need to accomplish, like writing a letter, or an outline for a presentation or something you put off because you don’t like doing it.