Going through change in the workplace often intensifies negative emotions. With uncertainty and little control of what lies ahead, people can feel anxious, fearful, and distrusting. These natural reactions to change may contribute to a toxic company culture that drives top performers to leave.
The concepts Barbara Frederickson elevates in her book Positivity explain how we can break the negativity spiral. Part 1 of our two-part blog series highlights what is positivity and the ten emotions that elicit it. With deeper understanding, leaders can take intentional steps to promote positivity in the workplace—counteracting negativity and leading to greater productivity, creativity, and employee retention.
Here are ways we’ve worked with leaders to build positivity to improve company culture and employee well-being:
1. Recognize the role you play in fostering positivity.
Most work now happens in teams, and teams look to the leader to set the tone. When leaders demonstrate positivity, it begins to spread as others in the group see the leader’s actions and mimic them. Equally important is to build a sense of connection and trust between you and your team that creates safety and stability. This type of environment is needed before people can experience positive emotions.
2. Practice mindfulness during the workday.
John Kabat-Zinn, who founded modern mindfulness, describes the practice as “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” One way to be mindful at work is to schedule time on your calendar when your energy typically wanes to simply walk around the building and pay attention. Invite conversation with whomever you run into and observe your company’s mission in action. Encourage your team to identify ways that work for them to raise their energy at a low point each day.
3. Create positive micro-moments.
While you cannot stop negativity from happening, Fredrickson explains that more positive moments can overshadow the negative ones. You can create these moments simply by sharing a piece of candy or a cup of coffee with a co-worker when they least expect it or by helping team members dedicate time to explore areas they’re excited about learning.
4. Acknowledge when positivity happens.
Observing your team and acknowledging when someone does something positive can elicit a greater positive response between the two of you. This collective positivity is contagious and will encourage other acts that lead to a positive company culture.
Foundation for Flourishing
A focus on positivity can promote each of the 9 Core Elements that inspire flourishing in the workplace, starting with a shift in yourself that promotes connection and belonging with others you interact with. Our leadership formation services can support you with that process: