We are all allowed to vent about challenges at work, from time to time. But I also think we need to focus particularly on the positive.

This is important, as the human tendency to focus on the negative tends to give us a skewed and often inaccurate perspective.

I also think that our thoughts and words can help to create our reality. If our words have hope and positivity about them, more helpful actions will tend to follow.

Here are eight different ways to think and speak more positively which you can practise with yourself and your colleagues:

  1. Stories of achievement: Yes, there are the big wins we can celebrate. But I think the small wins are just as important and sometimes, more meaningful. I am reminded of a teacher who became so excited when one of her students, who did not have English as a first language, was able to answer a question correctly in English for the first time. A small win perhaps, but a very important one.
  2. Stories of progress: I know high-performing leaders with great teams who are still very alert to the challenges in their team. I do like to ask such leaders to reflect on how things were in the past and the progress they have made since that time. We often need to remind ourselves how far we have come.
  3. Stories of kindness: We all know stories of colleagues who are barely on speaking terms. But I am privileged to have been part of helping colleagues to repair relationships and work more easily in the future. Being kind is not always easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. These are the stories that deserve repeating and celebrating.
  4. Stories of perseverance or endurance: I think of workplaces which are dealing with significant, ongoing and often, uncomfortable, change. The effort that it takes to continue working hard, while dealing with the challenges of change, is worthy of acknowledging and celebrating.
  5. Stories of resilience: I love working with high-performing teams. Are they stressed, at times? Of course they are. But they work hard at balancing the negative experiences with positive ones – laughing more at work, helping each other out, and contributing positively to well-being at work.
  6. Stories of effort, strengths and ideas: Most of us are working extraordinarily hard. And we certainly have ideas on how to improve the work we are doing. It really should be a no-brainer to genuinely acknowledge the efforts people are putting in, to value the strengths we see in people around us, to run with their solutions, when possible, and to give credit to their ideas.
  7. Stories of what is being done right: I love stories about professionalism, when people do the right thing irrespective of how they are feeling. Some examples that come to mind include people’s willingness to give change a go, to ensure communication is open and two-way, and respond with kindness and professionalism to challenging behaviour from others. Sometimes I like to ask people who have done something well, “How did you do that?”
  8. Stories of lessons learned: I do think it somewhat tragic when people show initiative, it didn’t work out ideally, and then they are criticised as a result. If we want to encourage initiative, we need to recognise initiative when it is shown, normalise any challenges that occurred, and look for any lessons if they are there.Hopefully, we are setting a good example for others in acknowledging our mistakes and what we have learned as a result. I often say, that if you learn from your mistakes, I have to be one of the smartest people around 

I hope the above has prompted you to think more about what you are doing right and, also, to ask about and celebrate the good choices of others.

We are all allowed to vent our unhappiness, of course. But it is important that we don’t become stuck in this place. There is a time for action. There is also a time to focus on the positive.

Quote of the week

“If you do not have control over your mouth, you will not have control over your future.”

Germany Kent, American Journalist and Businesswoman