The power of noticing good things at work
A topic that is sparking lots of interest at the moment is wellbeing and resilience. Last month, we published our info graphic and blog on how to fuel positive emotions.
A recent Harvard Business Review article published last month by Bono and Glomb shared more research about this important topic. As they write in their September 2015 HBR article, ‘The power of noticing good things at work’,
‘Over the course of a typical workday, negative and positive things inevitably happen to you. If you’re like most people, you tend to focus mainly, or even exclusively, on negative experiences. They’re what you ruminate over, what you talk to your friend about as you’re driving home, what you discuss with your partner at night. It sometimes feels good to talk about the negatives — it feels therapeutic.’
They write, ‘If someone were to tell you to focus only on the positive experiences in your day, you might be annoyed. People tend to associate Pollyanna-type positivity with inexperienced managers trying to squeeze a little more work out of frontline employees, or with the “keep smiling” wall posters in the call center.
What most people don’t realize is that positive experiences — even small ones — provide you with valuable resources that can be used to reduce stress, including physical symptoms such as headaches or muscle tension. They make it easier for you to detach yourself from work at the end of the day.’
So what can you do?
Quite simply – taking the time to think and write about three things that went well and why – each day, can have an extremely positive impact on your wellbeing.
‘After three weeks, stress levels and mental and physical complaints declined by small but significant amounts. Moreover, on days when participants focused on good things, they were better able to switch off stressful job-related thoughts in the evening at home.
This type of intervention has previously been shown to improve mood among people who are mildly depressed, but the researchers wanted to know whether it would also relieve stress for healthy workers. And IT DOES!
WIIFM – Other benefits:
In addition to the reduction in stress and physical + mental complaints, research shows this simple habit of noticing good things also :
- increases your ability to turn off from work
- increase the positive connections with others who you share these stories with
- improve relationships with those connections
- improves sleep
- improves creativity and innovation
Previous studies involving Professor Barbara Fredrickson in the area of positive psychology have shown humans need a ratio of at least 3 positive emotions to every negative one if they are to ‘flourish’. Sometimes called the Losada ratio, studies have shown a ratio of less than 3 positive emotions to every negative one decreases one’s resilience. Notice the ratio is not 3:0 – it is ok to have negative emotions. In fact negative feelings are necessary – often an irritation is what inspires us to find better ways and helps keep us grounded in reality. Negative emotions are, however only good in small doses, and we need a greater frequency of positive ones to keep them in check! Mild positive experiences experienced regularly is what matters!
(Click here to see more information about positivity ratios. You can record the different feelings you feel on an online journal to see your own positivity ratio!)
You see what you are looking for – noticing good things in a team has positive benefits for team performance too!
We have previous written posts about the research also performed by Losada that shows that suggests top performing teams give each other more than 5 positive comments for every opportunity for improvement. Medium performing teams had a 2:1 ratio of positive to negative. Low performing teams had 3 negative comments for every positive one.
Click here to see this post.
So it seems a no-brainer! Noticing what is working – making the time each day to savour it, and letting others know about too – has lots of personal and shared benefits. Try it!