Five Ways to Decrease Negativity at Work

March 25th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

High-powered teams have a positivity ratio of 6:1. That’s right. Six positives for every negative. What is the positivity ratio at your workplace? And what can you do to increase it?

Two ways to increase our positivity ratio: Increase the positive and decrease the negative. Let’s talk about decreasing the negative.

Reducing negativity may indeed by the quickest way to increase your positivity ratio. The concept of “negativity-bias” tells us that our negative thoughts are much stronger than our positive thoughts. So, mathematically, we will get the best and fastest results by reducing negativity.

1. Dispute negative thinking. Dispute negative thinking the way a lawyer would: by examining the facts. Ask: What were the negative thoughts? What triggered the negative thoughts? How did those thoughts make me feel? How does this compare to reality? What is the truth here? Then dispute the negative thinking with the truth.

2. Break the pattern of ruminating. When something negative happens, we have a habit of going over it again and again in our mind. Telling others. Not letting it go. Often finding ourselves spiralling down and getting stuck in the depths of despair. Once you are aware of the fact that you are ruminating, the quickest way to stop it is to distract. Find a way to lift your mood – in a healthy way (no drugs or alcohol).

3. Become more mindful. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” So being mindful means paying attention to your inner experience and thoughts without judgment. Become a witness to your thoughts and your feelings, and in this case, your negative thoughts and the feelings that arise. With awareness comes choice.

4. Reduce the negative input. Unfortunately, negativity grabs us. It draws us in. And gets a grip on us. What are you watching on television? Reading in the newspapers? What types of movies interest you? Media violence zaps your empathy and your kindness. The same is true for gossip. Shut off the television. Get your news online and choose what you want to pay attention to. Stop the gossip.

5. Change how you are with negative people. Get interested in them as people. Take the lead in the conversation. Ask questions. Look for positives. What are their strengths? Passion? What do you share in common? Choose activities that you are both interested in. Inject compassion, hope or humour. Reframe the relationship.  Ask: what can I learn from this person? Are they a teacher in disguise?

It is next to impossible to have spirit at work and be negative. It is next to impossible to be part of a high-powered team and be negative. It Is next to impossible to feel good about our work and the contribution we make when we are negative. But it is possible to reduce the negativity in our lives and our work – simply by shifting our thinking. It is time to rethink our life and our work.

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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