Just how positive are you?

March 18th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

What would you say your positive to negative ratio is? Five to one? Three to one? One to one? The vast majority of us hover around 2:1. Unless we are mentally ill, most moments in our lives are at least mildly good. But that is not good enough to flourish. Barbara Frederickson’s research shows that we need a positivity ratio of at least 3:1 to flourish.

The tipping point – that sweet spot in between where a small change makes a big difference differs depending on the situation. Where we need a 3:1 positivity ratio to flourish, happy marriages have a positivity ratio of 5:1. And high-powered teams have a positivity ratio of 6:1. That is six positives for every negative!

Why do we need so many positives to counteract the negative? It is something called negativity-bias. Simply put – the bad (or the negative) is stronger than the good. Just think about how we are drawn to the negative. Whether it is TV or the newspaper, negativity sells.  We become engaged when we hear about something bad that has happened to someone. Gossip draws a crowd. Unfortunately, the negative is way more powerful than the positive.

Two ways to increase our positivity ratio: Increase the positive and decrease the negative. So what can you do to reduce the negative and increase the positive in your life? And at work?

Spirit at work and positivity goes hand-in-hand. Actually, happiness in life and positivity goes hand-in-hand. The more we can reduce negativity and increase positivity in our lives and at work, the more we will flourish. The first step is to be mindful. So in the week ahead, I invite you to become a witness of your thoughts. Then once you have this awareness, I invite you to see how you can reduce the negative and increase the positive. And observe how you feel. And how others begin to respond to you. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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