The Power of Positivity
One of the things I find I am most impressed by when I meet a person is a positive attitude. Someone who is quick to find the good in a situation. Someone who gives compliments easily and shows gratitude for who they’re with and what they have.
Perhaps because it is so rare to find someone who is genuinely positive that I am greatly attracted to it. I have been to countless union membership meetings, and I have yet to stand around with a bunch of members afterward and listen to people talk about how “good” the company is. Ninety-nine times out of 100 the conversation is about how “bad” the company is.
It usually starts off with someone complaining about an issue, and everyone else jumps in and the downward spiral of negativity starts. It’s so easy to complain.
Why is it so hard to compliment? Why do we gravitate toward the negative instead of being genuinely thankful?
I’m guilty of the above a thousand times over. There was a long period in my life where I considered myself an expert at finding the “bad” in any situation.
Every single boss I’d worked for was “useless” or “incompetent”—insert your own negative critique here. I had a big mouth and all my work colleagues knew how I felt about the boss.
After my fourth or fifth job doing this, a friend who knew me well pulled me aside and pointed out this pattern in my life. “You might want to consider that your boss isn’t the problem—you are.”
Tough words to hear, but they hit home.
At my next job, I vowed I would never publicly complain about my manager or supervisor. I would keep any negative thoughts to myself and try and find the good in the person. And wouldn’t you know it, I had amazing supervisors the entire three years I worked there.
Funny thing, it was the same at my next job. And it happened again after that. Was it my supervisors that changed? Or was it me?
I had a similar life lesson a number of years ago when I was going through my divorce. If any of you have gone through divorce, or have friends or family going through one, you will know that it is one of the most difficult experiences to work through.
It is easy to be overcome with anger, bitterness, disappointment, and negativity.
Not too long after my ex-wife and I split up, I found myself taking every opportunity to criticize her behind her back. Everyone who would listen got an earful from me.
Once again, another friend called me out on this and showed me the negative pattern I was building and how it was affecting people around me—including our two children.
I still remember the day when I made the following decision: I will not speak a single negative word about my ex-wife. Instead, I will take every opportunity to give her compliments.
A few days later, our two kids were at my place having dinner with me. After the meal, the conversation came up about dessert, and somehow these words came tumbling out of my mouth. “You know what, your mom made the best chocolate chip cookies.”
These were perhaps the first positive words that I had uttered about her after the divorce. My daughter responded by saying, “Yeah, and she makes the best banana loaf.” My son chimed in, “And the best broccoli salad.”
From there, we started an upward spiral of talking about good things about their mom. This pattern repeated itself many times over meals after that.
I never told my ex-wife about the vow I’d taken. But somehow over the coming months, a shift took place in our relationship. We began to talk to each other in a much more respectful manner. We began to work through issues proactively, instead of fighting about everything.
Months later, when the paperwork for the divorce had to be filed with the courts, we were able to do everything without the need for lawyers. To this day, despite the fact both of us have remarried, we have an amiable relationship with open, positive communication.
We at CLAC find ourselves in a pitched battle against the mountain of negativity that seems to inevitably come out of the workplace environment. The first bullet point of our commitment statement tells the world that CLAC is attempting to foster a “positive work-life.”
How does this happen? In my opinion, it starts with one person making a conscious decision to stop the negativity in their own lives and making a vow to seek out everything that’s positive around them. The change can be, and most likely will be, dramatic—both individually and to everyone around them.