Several employees are in an office. Two of them are high-fiving and celebrating something. A third employee is also celebrating, standing near them and pumping his fist, his mouth open in a cheer. Two other employees are sitting at a computer in front of them, discussing something and not reacting to the people behind them.
Being positive in the workplace means acknowledging defeats but not letting those get in the way of celebrating the wins. — Getty Images/laflor

As a manager, you lead by example and your attitude has far-reaching potential, from individual employee motivation to company culture. By having a positive attitude in the workplace, you can improve employee satisfaction and business productivity, especially as a leader.

What does it mean to be positive at work?

Pessimists, fear not: Having and promoting a positive attitude isn’t about over-the-top cheerfulness, blind optimism or avoiding negatives. Instead, it means being realistic about people and situations at work, acknowledging both successes and setbacks.

With a positive attitude, disappointments aren’t interpreted as a sign to give up or give in. They’re motivation, cues to begin problem-solving and improvement.

Managers and employees with positive attitudes are also not complacent. They remain actively engaged in doing what’s best to prevent upsets for themselves and for the whole company, even if everything appears to be running smoothly.

[Read more: The Power of a Positive Workplace for Small Businesses]

6 Tips for being more positive at work

Celebrate small successes

Most tasks don’t show the larger picture, and delayed gratification can be challenging. To keep morale on track, bring attention to small successes and celebrate them with gratitude.

Stephen Kohler, CEO and founder of Audira Labs, an innovative coaching company for business leaders, recommended continuously recalling uplifting stories or little wins in the workplace.

“Positivity at work starts with listening, both internally and externally,” he said. “If you’re looking for a mood boost during the day … [recall] something positive a colleague said or a team win.”

If we think about challenges as opportunities to learn, we will always be focused on looking at things from a glass half-full perspective.

Tim Weiderhoft, CEO of Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades

Recognize and acknowledge hard work

Along with celebrating small gains, acknowledging sustained effort or consistent quality from employees will boost positivity. When hard work is underappreciated, it’s an unspoken but clear message that individual contributions don’t matter, a damage to motivation and morale.

Employees who feel appreciated will feel better about their company. Show them their efforts are worthwhile by getting to know their work and giving them authentic thanks at both expected times (e.g., during a meeting) and unexpected times.

Use positive language

Language shapes work culture. As a manager, how you speak about your company — and to your employees — influences expectations and approach.

Transparency is principal for communication, but the actual words you use reflect your honesty. To keep language positive, use words that are inclusive with good connotations. For example, instead of leading a conversation with worry about an unmanageable workload, focus on inspiring growth and reward with words like “believe,” “accomplish” and “progress.”

[Read more: How to Be a Positive Force at Work]

Treat your team with empathy and kindness

You and your employees will share common struggles. As a manager, it’s important to recognize this and use empathy to respond to situations.

“You can’t control external forces — you can only control your own attitude and what goes on within your own organization,” said Tom A. Wolfe, EVP of Ziebart International Corporation.

Not all work experiences or tasks will be positive, but remaining kind as you bring your team to larger goals will amplify positives.

Create fun initiatives

Sometimes, compensation isn’t enough motivation. You can improve morale by adding fun to the work week through things like team lunches, casual Fridays and relaxing activities to help employees unwind.

By building in fun, you create opportunities to reach outcomes beyond business goals, which can improve the workplace. According to Devan Kline, co-founder and CEO of Burn Boot Camp, engaging in fulfilling activities “give[s] you the strength and positivity to move through the day with a similar energy.”

Make a consistent effort to stop complaining

It may seem like a relief to complain, but complaining doesn’t offer solutions — it just brings attention to other negatives. When you’re frustrated, try describing your situation as an opportunity.

“If we think about challenges as opportunities to learn, we will always be focused on looking at things from a glass half-full perspective,” said Tim Weiderhoft, CEO of Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades. “The more positive energy you put out, the more you positively impact those around you.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 06, 2021