Bringing Optimism to the Workplace

Acknowledgement to an original blog by Toni Bowers @tbowers928

What’s your default response to everything
Optimism or Pessimism? 


Chronic negativity affects more than just you and your demeanour. It affects those around you and can affect how you are perceived in the workplace. It really can have an adverse effect on your career opportunities.
Here are some ways to notice if you are a regular pessimist and what you can do about it.

Years ago, there was a commercial for cereal in which two little boys push a bowl of cereal over to their little brother to see if it tastes good. “Let’s try Mikey. He hates everything,” they say. The little brother is adorable and it’s a cute little ad. When an adult is known for “hating everything,” it’s not so cute, especially at work.

Some people confuse negativity with superior intelligence,
as in “I am cognitively able to find the hole in every plan.”

If you think that looking for the problems and challenging everything presents you in a smarter, more discriminating light, you might want to re-think that.  Unless, of course, with every problem you find, you already have a solution.

‘What you focus on is what you see’

If we consistently look for the problems and limitations in any situation, then that’s all we will see. The human brain can become addicted to negativity, and when a pessimist criticizes something it gives them a “fix.” Over time people will avoid asking for their opinion, and may choose to avoid them altogether.

Here’s a few tips for changing your state, changing your behaviour, and getting  a different outcome.

Hold your tongue; Rather than just blurting out what you feel (or rolling your eyes, or sighing as if you have the weight of all the world’s stupid people on your shoulder), take a moment to be aware of what you’re actually feeling. Notice where that feeling is. Think about your desired state. Think about the best outcome for this situation, and notice how that feels different.

Get out of the habit; The fact is, you see more of what you think about. Have you ever learned something new and then it seems like people are already using it everywhere you turn? It’s not that they have suddenly started using it, it’s just that now you are noticing it. If you focus on people’s faults, you will find even more of them. Energy flows where focus goes. What is it you want to notice?


Become self-aware; Be objective about yourself. Ask your spouse or a close friend for considered feedback. Imagine what it’s like to be the other person you are interacting with. How do they perceive you? What can you change?

Assess your outcome; What are you trying to accomplish by your behaviour? Are you legitimately trying to make a process better or are you just trying to make a process look bad?

Decide to change; Being ‘problem’ focused is a habit. If you’re aware of what you’re doing, it will be easier to stop the negativity before it makes itself known in a meeting or in a work project. Look for and highlight the things that are working. Comment on good ideas. Give positive constructive feedback.

Be the difference that makes a difference. If you consciously work at it, you can become known as the person people can come to for encouragement and honest feedback. And that’s a great quality.

Find out more about the difference that makes a difference at our Business Practitioner Course.
Is this the time to take a new look at you?



One thought on “Bringing Optimism to the Workplace”

  1. Another brilliant blog, many thanks. Negativity also adversely affects your health and is the opposite of a placebo, it’s called the nocebo effect. The placebo effect is thought to help about 20 to 30% of people just based on believing they will get better. I bet the nocebo effect is far higher!

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