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Seven Strategies for Keeping a Positive Outlook at Work

Life comes with its share of ups and downs, and your work life is no exception. Chances are, at some point in your professional career, you’ll find yourself working in an environment that leaves a little to be desired—no doubt the stress of the job and office politics can take a toll on your attitude. While you cannot control how your co-workers or your bosses behave, you can control your reactions. Moreover, you can certainly take control over what comes next. The truth is, knowing how to stay positive when you’re feeling anything but, can be an incredibly valuable skill. Here are seven strategies for keeping a positive outlook at work.

Reasons Why You May Need to Adjust Your Attitude at Work

One-third of your life is spent at work, and of course, when things are going well, it’s easy enough to stay positive. However, some days are better than others, and no job is perfect. Negativity can ebb and flow for any number of reasons. Whether it’s a clash of personalities, boredom, working remotely, or being passed over for a promotion, you may need to dig deep and adjust your attitude at work from time to time.

A Positive Outlook at Work Can Have a Ripple Effect You Never Anticipated

Keep in mind that a truly positive attitude is far more than disingenuous cheer. It also doesn’t mean that you should bury your head in the sand and ignore real issues. Maintaining a positive attitude simply means that you’re choosing to see the bright side and choosing to make the best of any situation. The good news is that a positive attitude can have a far-reaching ripple effect that you never saw coming. A positive attitude can:

  • create a positive work environment
  • reduce stress
  • increase productivity
  • improve customer relations
  • motivate others
  • demonstrate leadership ability

Strategies for Keeping A Positive Outlook at Work

When negativity begins to creep in, here are seven real ways to maintain a positive attitude at work.

Practice gratitude. We’ve all heard about the power of gratitude journals. Over the last decade or so, they have gained quite a bit of notoriety, probably because they work. The fact is you can’t feel stress or worry at the same moment that you’re feeling gratitude. Research has even shown that those who practice gratitude are generally more optimistic and happier.

Keep in mind that when we talk about gratitude journals, it doesn’t have to be an actual book filled with page after page of your deepest thoughts. Instead, practicing gratitude each day can be as easy as chatting with your family at the dinner table about what you’re grateful for that day or talking to your spouse or partner before bed. There’s no need to stand on ceremony and make a big deal of it. Simply stopping to take a moment of mindfulness and appreciating what you have is enough.

Force yourself not to complain. Complaining tends to cast a negative light on pretty much everything. While it may feel far easier to grouse than actually solve the problem, it rarely accomplishes much. Complaining only compounds issues, keeping you stuck in the moment, and offers no forward momentum toward a solution. Instead of complaining, find another angle. Focus instead on making a plan and taking action; you’ll come out better on the other side.

Recap your workweek. When each week comes to a close, stop and take a moment to recap your week. In this case, don’t focus on metrics or anything quantifiable, per se. Instead, make a list of at least three things that went well; perhaps you closed a deal, received some positive feedback, or maybe you successfully helped a co-worker out of a jam. Recapping your week in terms of these types of wins will make you feel better than numbers on a spreadsheet ever will.

For those in a leadership role, you might try the same exercise with your team. Taking the time to highlight these types of wins will likely make a difference in everyone’s attitude, not to mention it will end each week on a high note.

Keep a happy folder. Most of us are often jumping from one thing to the next, all in the name of getting the job done. When you’re doing this day after day, you can easily lose sight of the value in your work or the value you bring to your organization; in the end, your positivity can certainly take a hit.

To minimize any negative feelings and get yourself back on track, try keeping a happy folder. Whether it’s digital or tangible, gather up the good stuff and keep it all in one place. If a client or customer shared some positive feedback, file it in your happy folder. When you receive a nice email from your boss, file it in your happy folder. If you just completed a project that you’re proud of, you guessed it, add it to your happy folder. Keep all of these reminders in one place, so when you’re feeling a little less than positive, pull out your happy folder and give yourself a pat on the back and reminder of why it’s all worthwhile.

Be nice. Negativity feeds on negativity, so try breaking the cycle by doing something nice for others. When you’re “other-centered,” you take the focus off yourself and what you’re feeling.

In the end, small acts of kindness will not only make someone else feel better, but they’ll make you feel better too. Incidentally, studies have also shown that generosity can be contagious. Who knows, your act of kindness may inspire some else to do the same, and before you know it, you’ve created a ripple effect of positivity that affects everyone.

Say thank you. “Thank you” might just be two of the most powerful words in the English language. They express gratitude for a job well done, they serve as positive reinforcement, and they are powerful motivators. In fact, study after study shows that gratitude increases productivity. So, whether you’re in a leadership position or not, taking the time to stop and say thank you to someone can make a huge difference in their day, not to mention your own.

Surround yourself with positive people. As the old saying goes, “misery loves company,” and nowhere is that ever more apparent than in a negative work environment. While you may be on the road to keeping a more positive attitude at work, the same may not hold true for your colleagues. So, when the negativity begins around the water cooler, it’s ok to go off in search of some positivity. Stick with the group that keeps it light.

Every job comes with its share of ups and downs, but when the scales start to tip with negativity, a few good strategies for keeping a positive outlook at work could keep things in check. Practice positivity, and do it often; it could make a huge difference for you and everyone around you.

Photo credit: Gino Crescoli from Pixabay