Recently we caught up with one of our Live Happy "Positive Work" columnists Margaret H. Greenberg for a discussion of how incorporating positive psychology into your company can make a big difference in the way you work:
Live Happy: Your book, Profit from the Positive, was the first book we featured in our very first issue back in October 2013. Since then, I understand you and your co-author Senia Maymin, Ph.D., have been speaking to businesses, organizations and universities around the world about how they can create more positive work environments. What have you learned over the last three years?
Margaret: Employees and managers are thirsty for a more positive approach to running their organizations. While fixing problems and shoring up weaknesses are important to the success of any business, if that’s all you focus on, it can be a drain of energy. A fix-it mindset also causes you to miss out on an important part of the equation—focusing on what’s going right and leveraging people’s strengths.
Live Happy: Why should organizations care about creating more positivity at work?
Margaret: It’s quite simple. More positive work environments create more positive, engaged employees, and more engaged employees create more loyal and happier customers. For example, in my research study at a large financial services company, we found that managers who gave more frequent recognition and encouragement had teams that were more than 40 percent more productive compared to managers who gave little or no feedback.
Live Happy: What’s the best way to keep meetings positive and productive?
Margaret: First, start with a sizzle. Begin your meetings by asking a positive question such as, “What’s the best thing that has happened since we met last week? or What are you most proud of?” University of North Carolina psychologist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has found that when people are in a positive emotional state they are more open to possibilities and more creative, and we all know we could use more of those qualities in the workplace, especially when we’re trying to solve complex problems.
Live Happy: How do you keep one team member’s negativity from dragging down the group?
Margaret: Dr. Sigal Barsade from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business has found that it only takes one person out of five to “infect” a group with a positive or negative mood. Remember this the next time you find yourself in the company of a negative person. Imagine a shield or cape that is protecting you from getting “infected” and be that one person who infects the group with some positivity.
Live Happy: One of our favorite questions you and your co-author Senia Maymin, Ph.D., ask at the end of every chapter in your book is: What is one small change you can make that will have the biggest positive impact? What would you advise for our Live Happy readers?
Margaret: Be mindful of the mood you are projecting when you walk into work or return home at the end of the day. Psychologists call this contagion theory. We call it the “The Achoo! Effect.” Your emotions, both positive and negative, are contagious. Be sure you are spreading more cheer than fear. Be a positive deviant!
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Margaret Greenberg is an experienced executive coach and author of the book Profit from the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business.