Skills 360 – Staying Positive (Part 2)

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Hello and welcome back to Skills 360. I’m your host Tim Simmons. In today’s lesson we’re going to build on last weeks ideas and look at how you can implement at positive attitude at work.

Think about this for a second: what kind of people do you like to be around? People who moan and complain and talk about how lousy their life is? Or people who have a sense of humor, who smile, who say “great to see you,” and who can find solutions to problems? Well, I’m going to venture a guess here and say that you prefer to spend your time with the second type of person. Why? Because they make you feel good.

In our last episode we talked about positive thinking. Today it’s all about maintaining a positive attitude toward others. And we’ve just identified one great reason to do this: it makes people feel good. And if you can do that, then customers will want to do business with you, colleagues will want to work with you, and bosses will want to see you do well. That’s certainly a recipe for success.

But as you know, it’s not always easy. Staying positive can be very difficult, especially when other people are negative. Sometimes we’re faced with mistrust, jealousy, fear, and blame. Sometimes the people we work with seem determined to drag us down. And sometimes things don’t go our way. We make mistakes. We don’t meet deadlines. We encounter huge problems. At times like these, it can be pretty hard to smile and say, “what a great day.” But it’s important to try. Others may complain, but we should refuse to participate. We can still be empathetic. We can still say, “I’m so sorry you feel that way.” But we should try not to give in to negativity and say, “yeah, life really does suck.”

So what does having a positive attitude involve? Let’s start simple, with a smile. Smiling is one of the only universal human expressions. It means the same thing, and has the same power, in almost every culture. Smile at others, and they’ll smile back. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, or what situation. Whether you’re a computer tech helping a company with its servers or an executive walking into a high-powered interview. Just smile.

Another part of a positive attitude is courtesy. Yes, that means saying please and thank-you and how do you do. But it’s more than that. Hold the door open for people. Shake their hands. Buy them a coffee. These simple things can do a lot to make people feel good. And here’s a tip: it’s pretty easy to surprise people by showing courtesy in email and other online communication. Technology has killed a lot of common courtesy, so stand out by showing you haven’t forgotten how to be polite.

Now, it’s not just about how you say things, it’s also about what you say. Think about the last few people you talked with at work. What did you talk about? What did you say? Did you talk about problems and failures, or did you talk about successes? It can be pretty easy to focus on what is going wrong and on what needs to be improved. But we can’t forget to say good things. That means complimenting and praising people. Like this: “Hey Dave, I think you did a great job on that report.” Or “Susan, I’m really glad you’re working on this project with us.” Most of us could do with more of this positive talk in our lives. Success is addictive, and reminding people of their successes is motivating.

Of course, balance is important. You don’t want to constantly gush with praise. You don’t want to “things are great!” when they really aren’t. Because you don’t want people to think you’re a pollyanna. A “pollyanna” is someone who only sees good things and thinks everything is wonderful even when it isn’t. That’s not realistic. Because problems happen. There are obstacles that we need to face. Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring those problems. It means facing them creatively and looking for solutions.

Imagine you’re working late with your team and the server goes down. What do you do? Do you say to everyone “crap, now we’ll never get this done.” Or do you say “let’s get tech support in here right away so we can fix this thing”? In other words, do you see limits or do you look for solutions? And which type of person do you want leading the team?

Right, so let’s review what we’ve talked about here. First, a positive attitude makes people feel good and want to work with you. Second, it’s especially important to stay positive when faced with negativity. Next, being positive can be as simple as smiling and being courteous. It also means remembering to praise people and talk about the good things, rather than criticizing and finding fault. But it doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to problems. Instead, it means looking for solutions and possibility. And if you can do these things, you’ll be both happier and more successful. I guarantee it.

That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.