Why It's Important to be Positive at Work

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Posted by The Editors on August 4, 2011
Why It's Important to be Positive at Work
A few weeks ago, I was interviewing an employee from a New York-based finance giant to be featured in our next issue of WetFeet magazine. One question I always ask is “What are you most proud about in your work?” Interviewees’ answers typically range from their involvement in an important project, their ability to work in a team, the fast pace at which they handled the initial learning curve, etc.

This particular employee had a simple answer that really impressed me: “My positive attitude.” She explained that as an investment banking analyst, her job can be very stressful and the team dynamic can get intense under deadline. But she always remains optimistic and enthusiastic because she believes attitude is contagious.

I’ve conducted dozens of these interviews, and I think that’s the best answer I’ve ever gotten for that question. No matter your job title—electrical engineer, stock trader, journalist, dog walker, whatever—if you approach things with a positive outlook, people will want to work with you.

It’s also worth noting that being positive doesn’t necessary mean you have to be nauseatingly enthusiastic and chipper all the time—in that case, your coworkers will probably get annoyed. Being positive in the workplace means greeting the receptionist with a smile instead of briskly walking by with your head down, remaining calm and optimistic when a project seems to be failing, and supporting your coworkers when they need it.

If you feel like you’re being a negative Nancy in your workplace, here are 5 tips to help yourself perk up!

      1. Stop trying to change your coworkers. This is huge. You simply cannot change
          other people’s behavior, so instead invest time in improving how you respond to
          them.

      2. Find out how you’re contributing to problems in the office. Take note when
          you’re complaining or blaming. Chances are this is the area where you can
          improve your own outlook and solve problems.

      3. Be grateful for your job. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong at work, focus
          on what is working well. Make a list of 5 to 10 things you’re happy about at work
          everyday.

      4. Look for opportunity. Whenever you perceive that something bad is happening, 
          get into the habit of finding the hidden opportunity. For instance, if you had a  
          bad meeting with a client, use it as an opportunity to gather insight into what 
          went wrong and what you should to avoid similar issues in the future.

      5. Think before you act. We’ve heard this since kindergarten, but truly, assess
          whether your potential actions and words are helpful or hurtful. If they’re not
          helpful, then stop.

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