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!

I remember about 10-15 years ago, when Daniel Goleman published his first books about emotional intelligence how excited we executive coaches and consultants were. Finally there was a name for all those soft “people” skills that everyone struggled with in workplaces. “Growing up” in the technology industry gave me plenty of opportunities to see the importance of what would later become a “dual career-track”, or the ability to move up the ladder in an organization either as a technical wizard, a leader of people, or both. Microsoft, a long term client, has done a particularly good job of providing these opportunities

Positive Psychology; the research on happiness and positive emotions is having a similar impact. I believe smart executives are already having sessions with their coaches and working hard on improving their positivity-to-negativity ratios. Here’s why:

Positive emotions directly correlate with:

  • Increased creativity
  • More curiosity and interest in the world
  • Better health
  • Better social relationships
  • Optimism and perseverance
  • Longevity

The business benefits of positivity include:

  • Lower turnover
  • Improved customer service
  • Better supervisor evaluations
  • Lower emotional fatigue
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Better organizational citizenship (ethics)
  • Fewer work absences
  • Improved innovation
  • Better safety records

Emotions’ Role in Business

For businesses and organizations, emotions are functional. Both negative and positive emotions work to drive results. Negative emotions serve to limit our thoughts and behaviors, helping us to focus and act more decisively in times of stress or crisis.

Not only can you never eliminate negativity – nor should you try – it’s an essential part of the human experience and helps us to pay attention. Yet it does tend to take over and sap our energy, especially when it becomes inappropriate or gratuitous.

Positivity broadens your outlook, on the other hand, and it opens you to new solutions and ideas, bringing more possibilities into view. Positivity fosters vital human moments that go beyond optimism and a smiling face.

It infuses your mindset and outlook, affects your heart rhythms and body chemistry, reduces muscle tension and improves relationships.

I don’t know about you, but if something can do all that, I’ll take a double dose. What about you? Do you think this is just fluffy material, common sense, or too hard to apply to real world situations?