Emotional states are an overlooked resource in the workplace. How we feel affects how we work individually and together as well as our resilience to stress and our creativity. Unlike other resources to help our staff in these straitened times, positive emotional states are a zero-cost, renewable, source of energy. And they make a difference to those around us.
In many workplaces conversation is regarded as an adjunct to the real work of getting stuff done. All too often a request for a conversation is experienced as an interruption, a distraction from real work. Seen as a necessary evil, the objective is to complete the conversation as quickly as possible so all involved can get back to work. While the topic of conversation may be regarded as important, the quality of conversation doesn’t even register. This is very unfortunate as the quality of any conversation will have an impact beyond the moment.
Mae West famously suggested that it’s not the ‘men in your life’ you need to worry about so much as ‘the life in your men; and as the celebration of another birthday reminds me that more of my life is behind than in front of me, I feel I’d be wise to focus on ‘the life left in my years’ rather than the ‘years left in my life’. And so, I turn to George Valliant for advice…
While we recognise that in general happiness is a crucial ingredient of well-being and health, happiness is not valued to the same extent by everyone. For some people it is a ‘nice to have’ while for others it is the stuff of life, a state to which they constantly aspire. Goal pursuit theory suggests that if we value something and actively pursue it we should experience more of it. So if we value happiness and pursue it, so we should experience more of it. However, there is a sting in the tail…
Lots of people feel instinctively that happiness and wellbeing at work must be important. But are they a business necessity or a ‘nice to have’. Surely it makes more sense to ensure your business is profitable and thriving before you start worrying about how people feel?
Increasingly research suggests that investing in employee wellbeing by ensuring positive work relationships, an emphasis on strengths-based development, and worker happiness has productivity pay-offs. So why delay, start promoting positive psychology practices at work today!
Forgiveness has an image problem. Asked to forgive people say: ‘but I can’t forget what they did’ or ‘I can’t imagine ever being friends again’ or ‘but I want them punished.’ These responses show a confusion between forgiveness, reconciliation, forgetting and justice.
Earlier this month I attended the Global Strengthscope Practitioner Conference in London. A wonderful and inspiring conference where completely unexpectedly I was presented with the 2017 conference ‘Outstanding Contribution to Positive Work Practices Award.’ I was delighted and honoured and it got me thinking about what we have achieved so far in bringing positive work practices into the workplace and what we have yet to achieve,
I have recently come across a great paper about human energy, it is referenced at the end of this piece. It set me thinking about what it was saying in relation to Appreciative Inquiry. These are my thoughts.
Brief Account of the book
The book is based on two rounds of research undertaken by the authors in collaboration with their MBA students. They identified the organizations initially by asking the question ‘Tell us about some companies you love. Not just like but love.’
For those who would like to dip their toe into the positive psychology world I've plucked a few of the recommendations from my book, Positive Psychology At Work, for you to have a look at. Hopefully they illustrate just how intuitive a lot of this is - which doesn't make it easy to do in a hierarchical, busy organisation of course!
Elicit Success Stories
Start meetings with a round of success stories. Before you get into the meat of the meeting, usually a litany of problems and challenges, start by giving people the opportunity to share the best of their week.
Co-created change differs in its process and effects from imposed change. Whole-system change methodologies such as Appreciative Inquiry and World Café facilitate co-created change.
This is an edited extract from my new book Positive Psychology and Change
1. Calls on the organization’s collective intelligence
Participative co-creation involves, from the very beginning, those affected by the change, allowing them to apply their ‘local knowledge’ intelligence at the point at which it can save the organisation both time and money.
How is it different, why is it better?
Co-creative approaches to organization change such as Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, and World Café have some very distinctive features that differentiate them from more familiar top-down planned approaches to change.
Fascinating research on group performance suggests two key things:That the collective intelligence of a group is more than the sum of its parts and that the presence of women in a group is key to high collective intelligence
Much research has now confirmed happiness has many benefits. One easy way to use positive psychology to bring these benefits into the work place is by opening a meeting with a ‘success round’. All too often in meetings we plunge straight into the business of the day. Starting the meeting by giving people a chance to share a recent success not only boost people’s mood in the moment, it also prepares them to engage more productively with what ever is to follow. As an added bonus, we learn lots about what makes our colleagues tick.
One might have thought that the expression of gratitude was for the benefit of the recipient, to feel acknowledged and affirmed in their generous act: possibly so. However the experience of gratitude also brings great benefit to the donor, and some of those benefits can be seen to act as an inoculation against the dangerous seductions of privilege, power and position.