Limiting the Effects of Toxic People on Your Wellbeing

We’re often reminded of the importance of limiting harmful toxins for our body. There are warning labels on certain foods, documentaries made, and even cleanse diets to rid our body of harmful toxins. Should we not enforce such warnings when it comes to the people we surround ourselves with?

Toxic people can wear down your mental and emotional wellbeing in the same way that a steady stream of junk food can throw your body out of sync.

You’ll no doubt be familiar with the traits of toxic people. Their behaviour is predominately negative. They are generally critical, self-absorbed and often create drama around them. They’re the people you feel a sense of dread rise up from your feet to your heart when you see them.

Sound familiar?

If so, the key is in how you manage these relationships. It’s often not possible to avoid these people completely or to expel them from our lives – particularly at work and particularly as we move into the festive season.

The most effective way is to limit the amount of time and energy that you put to the interactions, so that their negative energy doesn’t adversely affect your positive mood, energy and attitude.

Action Steps

1. Limit how often and how long
Set limits on how much time you spend with them. If your time is an obligation you can’t avoid, try to shorten the duration and frequency of your interactions.

2. Limit your emotional engagement
This may be difficult but do try to not take on their energy and opinions. Listen politely but keep an emotional distance to preserve your values and opinions.

3. Limit the interactions if they turn negative
Negativity can breed negativity so set boundaries and stick to them. If they try to engage you in negative behaviours such as gossiping or complaining, try to limit the interaction and exit the situation at your earliest opportunity.

Caring for your mental and emotional wellbeing involves many of the same principles as caring for your physical wellbeing – including limiting unhealthy influences.

Who comes to mind first when you think of ‘toxic people’? What steps might you take to limit the effects of that person on your wellbeing?


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How to Be Resilient to Rejection at Work

As we all know, rejection hurts. It’s true whether it’s as a teenager with your first crush or as an adult in the workplace. At work, it can be not landing that job you applied for, not being invited to be part of a particular project, being told that you’re not meeting client expectations… and the list goes on.

As we teach our young when they first fall off a bike, the best way to deal with rejection is to get up, dust yourself off and try again. To maintain our wellbeing – both personally and professionally – we need to be able to deal with these situations in positive and healthy ways.

That sounds simple, and of course the process rarely is. The good news is that negative experiences like rejection can help us to grow and to build our resilience to future challenges – so they affect us less often and we can bounce back more quickly.

Action Steps

Here are 5 key steps to moving forward positively from rejection at work…

1. Allow yourself to feel it
Rejection hurts. It sets off the same area in our brain as physical pain. So give yourself time to feel the emotions – disappointment, sadness, anger, embarrassment or fear. Don’t ignore or deny these feelings as they’ll only resurface later. Accept that they’re an appropriate response to the situation.

2. Be Self-Compassionate
Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Mistakes are how we learn in life and build ourselves as better people. Talk to yourself kindly, as you would to a friend who was going through a similar situation.

3. Be Objective
Take an objective look at the rejection. Step back from your own perspective and look at the situation from another angle. Was it warranted in some way? Is there something you missed? Is the time not right? Are your hopes realistic? What could you have done better? It can be a hard task to put yourself under the spotlight but the lessons learned can be invaluable.

4. Learn the lessons
This is crucial for building resilience for the future: Ask yourself, what can I learn from this situation? What can I take from this experience that will be useful in the future?

5. Move On
Finally, allow yourself to move on. Let it go and move forward. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying life, now and into the future.

Think briefly about past rejections you’ve experienced at work…

What could you learn from these situations that could be useful for you, now or in the future?

Take a mental note of these, so you can build your resilience and equip yourself for future challenges.

Simple Opportunities That Are Often Missed

Have you ever been excited about something that’s happened and then been disappointed when you shared your good news with others? They didn’t share your excitement, seem interested, or didn’t ‘get’ how important it was to you?

When it comes to relationships, it turns out that how we respond to other people’s good news is as important as how we respond to their bad news.

Research shows a strong correlation between the quality of a relationship and the way the participants respond to each other’s good news. How you respond to others can build up or undermine the relationship – even if you don’t say something negative.

When good things happen, we typically share the news about the positive event with someone else. This is a process called capitalisation.

Capitalising amplifies the pleasure of the good situation and contributes to an upward spiral of positive emotions and wellbeing. The problem is, the positive effects of capitalisation are dependent upon the responses of the people with whom the events are shared.

These are the four ways we can respond to someone else’s good news…
1.    Active constructive
2.    Passive constructive
3.    Active destructive
4.    Passive destructive

Active and constructive responses involve showing genuine interest in the good event being described and being excited and happy for the other person. These responses communicate that you understand why it’s important to them and that you are interested in what happens to them.

In contrast, passive or destructive responses communicate that you either don’t understand it’s importance to them or you don’t care about their thoughts, emotions or life.

Here’s an example of possible responses to someone’s good news about a promotion…

Active-Constructive: “Wow, that’s great news! I know how important it was to you. Let’s have lunch to celebrate and you can tell me all about it.”

Passive-Constructive: “That’s nice.”

Active-Destructive:  “Wow, that sounds like a lot of responsibility to take on. Can you handle it? Maybe no-one else wanted it!”

Passive-Destructive: “You won’t believe what happened to me today!”

Action Steps

Responding in an active and constructive way is a great way to build a new relationship or strengthen an existing one. Here are some simple steps to get you started…

1. Stop and listen. Really listen. Often we get so caught up with the task at hand or our own thoughts that we don’t listen properly. As a result, we miss cues and miss opportunities to really connect and share the joy with the other person.

2. Ask questions about the situation. Seek to find out more – how the situation arose, how it unfolded, and how they feel about it.

3. Stay focused on them. This is not the time to tell them what similar thing happened to you. Enjoy their enjoyment with them.

How could you use Active Constructive Responding to build your relationships at work and at home?

This Simple Thing Can Change Your Day (For the Better)

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day today, encouraging us all to do something kind for someone else, without expecting anything in return.

Showing kindness to others, be it by paying-it-forward (pay for the next person in line’s meal, coffee, etc.) or by surprising a loved one with a call or visit, boosts our happiness and our sense of wellbeing by giving us the feeling that we’re doing something that matters.

This sense of purpose is a powerful thing. It increases happiness, productivity, and pride in ourselves. It can even increase our longevity.

Some studies suggest that seeing our kindness appreciated, building relationships, and the prospect of reciprocation is what drives this morale boost. Others suggest that remaining anonymous is best, so the people we are helping don’t feel indebted or pitied.

The workplace is an excellent place to enjoy the best of both approaches.

Action Steps

Here are 3 ideas to get you started (and keep you anonymous)…

  1. Pay for someone else’s coffee at your workday cafe. It’s an oldie but a goodie!
  1.  Leave a care package on a colleague’s desk (with no note). Pack some stress-relieving fun into a box; include their favourite snacks, a toy or small game, even fun decorations for their workspace.
  1.  Send a card in the post (but don’t sign it). You’d be surprised how much a simple sentiment can make a person smile. It’s nice to know that you’re appreciated and that someone is thinking of you, no matter who you are.

Why wait for one day each year? Make every day a day for random acts of kindness!

What kind things could you do for a coworker today?

 


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Conversations For Life: Understanding The Risk Factors & Warning Signs of Emerging Mental Health Issues & Suicide Risk

This talk will outline the key risk factors and warning signs of developing mental health issues and suicide risk.

You’ll learn what you can do if you encounter someone with increased risk of suicide, to help the situation before it becomes a crisis.

Download interview audio

Download interview transcript

About Glenn Baird, OzHelp FoundationGlenn Baird-2

Glenn Baird is the Support Services Manager at the OzHelp Foundation.

OzHelp Foundation is a national men’s mental health organisation which aims to prevent the suicide of working men by supporting them in workplaces to be more resilient and confident in meeting life’s challenges, providing services to 34,000 people each year.

OzHelp was founded in 2001 after the suicide of young Canberra man, David O’Bryan. David’s mother Lorraine worked with local organisations to put in place support services targeted at young men working in the construction industries, to help prevent other families experiencing the same loss.

OzHelp’s focus is still male-dominated industries such as building and construction, along with mining, trades and automotive industries. It is precisely because men are traditionally less likely to seek help that we seek them out and provide mental health support and training in their workplace, along with counselling.

OzHelp offers training and support services to both men and women in workplaces, including Employee Health and Wellbeing Programs. OzHelp’s suicide prevention and other wellbeing programs can be licenced by employers. Train the Trainer services are also provided.

You can connect with Glenn via: ozhelp.org.au

Getting Angry Often? How to Manage Anger in Healthy Ways

Anger experts tell us that anger is an emotion that arises due to a perceived injustice. Everyone gets angry. It’s a part of our human make-up so it’s important to accept anger as a normal emotion and not deny it when we’re feeling it.

However, as we all know, anger is a tricky emotion to handle at work. If you express it, it can easily come out in ways you don’t intend or that you regret later. And it can be hard to keep control of it, especially if you’ve been quietly seething over something for a while.

So what do you do if you’re feeling angry at work? According to the Centre for Non-Violent Communication (cnvc.org), there are four options; only two of which are recommended…

1.    Aggress emotionally or physically against someone/something else
2.    Aggress emotionally or physically against yourself
3.    Connect internally with your own feelings and needs; provide self-commpassion and self-support
4.    Connect authentically to someone else – especially, in an anger situation, explore the underlying needs of all parties, which often makes it much easier to come to a mutually satisfying solution

Obviously the second two of these approaches are the ones that’ll serve your better and get better outcomes.

Action Steps

Here are 7 practical things you can do to manage your anger and release it in healthy ways…

1.    Take 5 really deep breaths
At the first sign of rising anger, allow yourself time for five really deep breaths instead of reacting immediately. This act will bring extra oxygen to the brain to give you greater clarity as well as time to sort out your thoughts. Walk away from the situation for a short while and take time out to calm down if you need to.

2.    Take an Assertive, Not Aggressive Approach
There’s a fine line between the two. The difference is in whether you impose upon the other person’s rights or wellbeing when you stand up for your own. Try to model Nelson Mandela’s style – calm, strong, humble and constructive.

3.    Work through the issue
Don’t just get cranky and have a go at someone but leave the problem unaddressed. Adopt a problem-solving approach. Sit down with the relevant person(s), look for things you agree on first, and then calmly try to find ways through to a workable resolution.

4.    Release it from your body
Physical activity will process the stress hormones that pump through your body when you’re angry while also releasing feel-good hormones such as endorphins so you can feel better. After a good bout of exercise, I guarantee that you will feel calmer. Take a walk around the block. Go to the gym after work. Walk the dog in the evening – anything that’ll get it out of your system.

5.    Release it from your mind
If you’re looking for an outlet to release your thoughts and emotions, try journalling. It’s a great way to feel like you’re talking to someone while keeping your own counsel. Expressing your feelings in this way can be very freeing and can sort things out in your mind. If you’re at work, you could simply use a word document and not save it.

6.    Let it go
Do what you can to address the issue and then mentally unhook from the situation. Especially if it’s something you don’t have control over or the ability to influence the outcome.

7.    Ask for help
Seek support from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. And don’t be afraid to use the Employee Assistance Program if you have one. It’s there for that very purpose.

Which will you do first, next time you’re feeling angry?

Something we all enjoy and want more of, yet forget to do

How often are you praised for your work? How often do you praise others?

I was talking with a former colleague the other day who’s been in a new job for the last three months and recently received praise and positive feedback from her new managers for a large project she’s been managing. She is beaming and blossoming as her previous managers gave only negative feedback, never any praise.

Giving and receiving praise is one of those perennial workplace issues. Praise is something we all enjoy and want more of, yet it’s something we don’t do often and when we do, many of us don’t deliver it as effectively as we might.

The good news is that it’s simple to learn and easy to do. It costs nothing and takes very little effort yet delivers great benefits.

As we all know, praise is encouraging, it makes us feel good about ourselves and our efforts and it motivates us to keep going with what we’re doing. Without praise, we lose that positive feedback loop and can easily become discouraged and disengaged.

More Positives at Work = Better Relationships, More Productivity, a Better Workplace

Research has found that one of the key differences between happy relationships versus unhappy or dysfunctional ones is the ratio of positive emotions experienced versus negative ones.

It turns out that to feel well and happy, we need at least three positive experiences for every one negative experience. This ratio increases to at least five to one at work or within relationships. This is called the ‘Positivity Ratio’ and it’s an indicator of the wellbeing or otherwise of an individual, a relationship, a team or even a workplace.

If you’d like to work in a happy workplace, an easy way to boost your workplace’s ledger on the positive side is to recognise and praise people for positive behaviour – you don’t have to wait for management to do it!

Action Steps

Here’s how you can give effective praise and contribute to a happy work environment this week…

1. Find the Good, Sincerely

Find the good things a person is doing and tell them what you appreciate about them. Be genuine, since insincere praise will undermine trust and won’t aid learning or development.  Even if you don’t like ALL that they’re doing, find the good in it and focus on that. Otherwise say nothing. Better to to say nothing than to give untruth or insincerity.

2. Be Specific

Highlight what they did in detail, both particular actions and attitudes. This helps them to know what you noticed and appreciated – and what to repeat in the future.

3. Give Them Time to Process and Respond

Many people will try to brush off praise, even if they secretly appreciate it. Pause to help them to enjoy their achievement and share in that small positive moment together.

4. Take Their Style Into Account

Some people like public praise, others only private praise. Would the recipient prefer face to face verbal feedback or an email? Choose how you praise based on their preferences, not yours. (This is one area where many people miss-step.)

5. Focus on Things They Can Control

This part is crucial. The recipient can’t control their intelligence or natural traits so praising these is not useful. Instead focus your praise on what they can control – ie their efforts and attitude. This is a key way to make sure your praise has the greatest positive effect, both at the time you give it as well as into the future.

You don’t have to leave it to management to deliver all the praise and appreciation in your workplace. Tell your colleagues when you see them do a good job and enjoy the joy and positivity that comes from it!

Who do you have an opportunity to praise at the moment?

Building the Courage to Speak Up

“I don’t want to go to work today if Jamie is going to be there. What if he yells at me again in front of everyone, or takes me into his office and puts me down?”

Have you ever had that sort of experience?

I have, many times. For years I would do whatever anyone would say, especially my boss, even if it didn’t feel right.

Until one day I had the courage to speak up for myself.

I was so sick of being yelled at and seeing my colleagues treated with no respect, that I felt I needed to put a stop to this. I took a few deep breaths, wiped away my tears and approached my boss just after he raised his voice at me.

I said (with an open heart) “Jamie, you do not speak to me like that. If you have a problem with me I would appreciate you speaking to me about it. I am a human being and deserve to be spoken to with respect.”

His response was profound and it totally changed our relationship.

He began to speak to me and my colleagues with enthusiasm and encouragement. Maybe he didn’t realise what he had been doing and just needed a reminder.

Why is it that we often feel we cannot speak up, voice our opinion and say no when something doesn’t feel right?

So often, we hold ourselves back due to fear.

Fear of what others will think of us, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of hurting someone else. The truth is when we live in constant fear, NOONE wins.

Learning to live with a more positive and loving attitude takes courage, takes vulnerability and a lot of practice. AND when we begin to make this shift from fear to love, we allow our relationships to be more healthy and powerful.

Please remember this: you can never make anyone else feel anything – because his or her feelings are theirs.

Worrying about how someone will react to what you say is also living in fear. Trust yourself, know that your intention behind speaking up is not to hurt the other person; it is to offer your opinion, and allow them to respond.

The reality is that no one is ever right or wrong so there is no need to fear what others think of you. If they want to start an argument with you, you are simply sharing YOUR TRUTH and they are sharing theirs. If we continue to hold back it creates toxicity within us and in all of our relationships.

When our life is filled with toxins it looks a little like this: we consciously choose to create drama, we do not look after ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally, we love to blame the other person, we fall victim in every situation and quite often feel anxious and overwhelmed. I manifested a very toxic life for years, until one day I woke up and decided to take my power back. I chose to live a toxic free life which meant ending some relationships, looking after my health better (in all areas) working in a job I enjoyed, and learning more and more about myself.

Remember that everyone you meet is on their own journey. So this article is not about blaming our boss or judging them. We need to be compassionate towards all human beings including ourselves.

Relationships are simply teaching us lessons to learn more about ourselves.

When I faced my fear around confrontation and spoke up to my boss (even though my heart was pounding out my chest and I felt very nervous) it was one of the biggest life lessons I have ever learnt.

And I am forever grateful to him for helping me learn how to trust myself and speak up when I feel I need to. I hope this has inspired you to do the same.

Steps to help you speak up:

  1. Make a commitment to yourself

You need to firstly make the conscious commitment to loving yourself. Love yourself enough to say no. If someone was mistreating your best friend would you speak up about it? YES because you love and respect your friend. Make that friend YOU and begin to stand in your own power. Being a people pleaser will only ever take you so far.

2. Feel your feelings

When you notice yourself getting angry, process your feelings before you speak up. As children we were not taught to feel our feelings, if we cried we may have been told to “Be quiet. You have nothing to cry about.” And instantly shamed for being vulnerable.

Feeling your feelings is a big part of learning how to create a more abundant and happy life for yourself. Things that may help you are knowing this: Your feelings will not kill you. They do not define you. They only last for 90 seconds and, just like the weather, our emotions are constantly changing so you are never stuck in one emotion.

GOOD or BAD is not a feeling, it is a judgment of a feeling.

Our primary feelings are MAD, GLAD, SAD, SCARED. So every morning and throughout the day check in with how you are feeling. It’s so easy for us to express our comfortable feelings like happiness and excitement, do you agree? But in today’s society we find it hard to express our uncomfortable feelings (again this is because we have not been taught how to feel them properly).

I believe if everyone took full responsibility for their own feelings it would minimise arguments in relationships. So if you are feeling uncomfortable at all, for example angry, sad, and anxious, there are healthy ways to express this. Cry, scream into a pillow, go for a walk (move your body), journal, breathe deeply, mediate, speak to someone.

3. Calm yourself, process what’s really going on, THEN talk

Speaking when you are feeling angry will not ever resolve anything, so take the time to calm yourself, process what’s really going on and THEN have the conversation.

Take some time to sit with yourself, take a few deep breaths and get a pen to paper. Tell yourself the truth about how you feel, don’t keep your opinions locked in your head anymore. Start to express yourself, even if it is only in your journal or to loved ones.

When we practice this enough, we begin to get master it and it will become easier to speak up to everyone in your life.

4. Become aware of the inner YOU

Start by giving yourself 30 minutes of “me time” every day. This could be on your commute to or from work, or wake up half an hour earlier. This is time that you can be present with you and understand yourself more. Be aware of your inner voice – are your thoughts towards yourself negative or positive? Use a journal to bring awareness into your life.

Once you have awareness about your behaviours THEN you can begin to change them.

When you are happy and love yourself from within, it has a ripple effect on everyone around you. Get the inside right and everything else will fall into place.

Understand that happiness comes from within; begin to be aware of YOU, your actions, your thoughts, your feelings, your energy, your input into the world. If you are still seeking validation or approval from others, it just means that you are still trying to find happiness outside of you.

Learning to love yourself, and to speak up, are not easy but are so worth it.

Five key factors that determine organisational culture

From the beginning of time, human behaviour has remained very predictable.  One of the most predictable aspects of human behaviour is that tension and conflict inevitably arise when two or more people are required to work together to achieve an outcome.  That is a good thing.  Tension and conflict are necessary conditions to achieve a heightened sense of purpose and when constructively harnessed, spectacular results are possible.

At an organisational level, culture is a factor of the interactions between the people in that workplace.  Our collective ability to constructively manage workplace relationships, particularly in the face of inevitable tension and conflict, defines our organisational culture.

In the end, organisational culture has next to nothing to do with what type of work is performed, but how effectively we consciously and unconsciously resolve internal tension and the impact that this leaves on all involved.  When managed well, the good will and trust that develops, positions an organisation and its people for greatness.

Therefore, when I am looking for clues to uncover what an organisation’s culture is really like, I am drawn to those things which are most likely to cause conflict in the organisation.  Like a theatre production unfolding before you, if you sit back and watch how well or how clumsily, how aggressively or passively people manage organisational tension, then much will be revealed.

But what should you look for?  After many years of trial and error, I settled on five main factors of organisational life that I try to observe and understand.

1. Leadership

How important is status in the organisation?  How close or removed are top management from the shop floor?  What gets rewarded and recognised by leaders? How do leaders communicate with their employees? How trusted are leaders?

2. Workload

To be clear, this is not an observation of the work itself, but of the expectations of how much of a load employees are expected to carry.  Is the workload distribution equitable? Is it predictable?  When an employee arrives for work today, will she know what lies ahead during the day? Is the workload shared and what happens to the work when they take leave?

3. Capability

How well are people trained to do their jobs?  How long does it take for an employee to reach a level of job mastery? Is the approach to learning and to training structured so that employees can expect to reach a level where they can function in an autonomous way?

4. Relationships

Does the workplace support and encourage relationship building?  What are the social norms of the workplace?  What happens if somebody steps outside the social norms?  Do employees trust the organisational complaint or grievance systems? How dependent are employees on one another in being able to achieve success?

5. Controls

What job controls exist to guide the work?  How closely are people supervised?  Is their work checked, approved or randomly sampled?  Can an employee expect to receive regular feedback on their performance from a line supervisor?

 

Culutre Model branded

These five categories are at the centre of the majority of organisational conflict.  Interestingly, they align with the SCARF Model, developed by Dr David Rock, the pioneer of Neuroleadership.  The five domains of the SCARF model are listed on the Leading Culture Model.

Invariably, there will be conflict around one of more of leadership, workload, capability, relationships or controls.  At any time, there may be several people in the organisation who are in conflict around these factors.  The manner in which employees are able to express their feelings of irritation and the desire and capability of the organisation to resolve issues in a way that demonstrates genuine concern and respect for the importance of these factors has a large bearing on determining its culture.  Organisations that engage constructively and invest in each of these factors report far more productive cultures than those who do not.

Surrounding the Leading Culture Model are additional aspects of organisational life which are also relevant, but play a more static role in culture, rather than the dynamic role experienced by the five key factors.  The tools, accommodation, remuneration, organisational governance and its commitment to adherence to legal compliance also play a significant contributory role, but only really become factors in influencing organisational culture when they are sub-optimal.  To this end, I describe these as cultural hygiene factors.

Organisational culture is a complex issue.  Leaders who develop mature work systems and model constructive behaviour around the five key factors will find that organisational culture becomes a much simpler issue to understand and master.

5 simple but powerful gestures that will help you to build happy relationship

We often like to see ourselves as independent individuals, yet time and again research shows that we are incredibly interconnected. Positive relationships are crucial to our wellbeing and happy relationships are a central source of happiness and fulfillment.

Given the huge proportion of time we all spend at work, work relationships play a significant role in our wellbeing.

Here are 5 quick and easy ideas for building positive and uplifting connections with the people around you at work…

1.    Send a thank you

Email or call someone who has helped you out over the past two weeks. It doesn’t have to be long, it just needs to be authentic.

The key is that something they did that has made a positive difference and you are thanking them for it. Even if they were just doing their job, if it made things better for you or others, taking time to thank them may well make their day!

2.    Follow up

Email someone you’ve provided work to recently and ask them if what you sent them was what they were seeking. Or ask how things turned out if it was part of a greater process or project.

By showing that you care about the work you do and about your impact on others, you can make a lasting positive difference to that relationship.

3.    Give a sincere compliment

Look for something you can genuinely compliment a colleague on. The key is to be sincere – people will sense whether you’re being genuine or self-serving/inauthentic. We all love to receive positive feedback – share some positive vibes and enjoy the glow!

4.    Offer support

Take some time to notice how the people around you are faring at work. If someone seems to be struggling with their workload, ask them how they’re going. If they give you an honest reply (which they might not) offer to give them a hand for half an hour/an hour/a defined period of time.

They probably won’t take you up on it but a genuine offer of support will almost certainly be appreciated. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed too, tell them you understand and they’re not alone – without using the opportunity to complain or shift the focus to your workload! :)

5.    Do something for someone without being asked

Research shows that the most appreciated gifts are those that are both unexpected and personalised. Show your support for a colleague by doing something that you know they’ll appreciate.

This can be a small gesture like getting a coffee for someone who is flat out, or something more significant. The key is for it to be helpful in their eyes and proactive – not waiting to be asked. This shows you are thoughtful and willing to support your colleagues.

Simple gestures like these can create a lovely positive spiral of people paying positive gestures forward – which could make your whole work area happier. It just takes one person to start the process!

Action Steps

We’ve covered five simple but powerful gestures that will help you to build happy relationships…

Which will you choose to do today? And for whom?

Also consider… how much of a positive impact could you have if you did one of these every day? The positive possibilities are endless!


10 Simple Steps to Reducing Negativity At Work

Modern workplaces can be stressful – lots of work, pressing deadlines, people issues and working extra hours to name a few – and stress can easily lead to negativity.

If you’re experiencing negativity at work – whether it’s coming from somebody else or from within yourself – you can take steps to change it. It often takes patience and practice because negativity can be a habit but, as you’d know, habits can be changed!

It’s entirely possible to reduce negativity and help make your workplace a happier place for everybody.

Here are 10 simple steps to help you get started today…

1. Take an honest look at yourself. Are you spreading negativity? It’s normal to sometimes to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, jealous or angry at work. The trick is to become aware of when you’re sharing how you feel to try to make yourself feel better. By telling everyone how bad you feel, you can easily become a happiness sapper and source of tension for the people you work with. Try to be a positive companion where possible.

2. Step up your self-care. Stress can lead to negativity and if you’re under stress, you’ll have lots of stress hormones in your body. That means physical self care is crucial. Eating well, physical activity and adequate sleep all help to reduce the toll of stress hormones and are proven to improve your mood.

3. Engage your curiosity. When something or someone doesn’t do what was expected, don’t get angry or upset. Approach it like a puzzle. What parts of it went right? Where was the pitfall? How could you use this knowledge for future planning?

4. Refocus your energy onto what’s strong and less on what’s wrong. That could be particular people, a process, a relationship; anything that is strong and working well. A strengths-based focus is proven to boost wellbeing.

5. Find and give support. Research shows that having a trusted friend at work is crucial to being happy and resilient to stress. Invest time and energy into positive relationships at work.

6. Challenge negative thoughts. Sometimes negative thoughts are justified but more often they come from our internal fears or lack of confidence. Ask yourself “what would I tell a friend who was feeling this way?”. Coach yourself – or others- into taking a balanced and realistic view.

7. Reassure when change seems threatening. When uncertainty comes up, be friendly and kind – whether it’s to yourself or others. We all need encouragement from time to time.

8. Create a sense of meaning. Finding a way to connect your work to what is meaningful to you can help you to take a bigger view and remain positive in challenging times.

9. Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.” Management or others might not act in the way you believe they should. Systems and processes might suck. That’s normal. To keep these things from stressing you and making you negative, find some appreciation in ‘what is’.

10. Keep things in perspective. Or try on a new perspective. Getting get stuck in negative thinking patterns will only create a downward spiral of emotions for yourself and those around you. Stay realistic, avoid comparisons, and take a longer view.

Action Steps

Which will you use TODAY to help reduce negativity in yourself and/or others?


The Power of Trust

There are times in your career when things just seem to fall into place. The team you work with gets along well, the work may be challenging but rewarding and results are good. Getting up each day and going to work is fun. You look forward to it and most days are energising.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe that time is right now, or maybe it was some time back and you feel like it may never return. For me, there have been three times across a 25 year career that stand out.

In my work with clients, I make a point of discussing this with them. I ask them to reconstruct their best workplace experiences (I’m talking about experiences across extended timeframes: months or even years…not just a few days or weeks). Over time, clear themes have emerged. Just as importantly, there are potential reasons which are almost always absent.

First the things that aren’t important:

  • The company you work for. That’s right, who you actually work for plays a very small, almost irrelevant role in determining workplace happiness.
  • The pay and conditions, although there is a caveat on that statement. There are minimum standards to everything. Pay and conditions are hygiene issues and must be respected by the employer, lest they act like submerged icebergs and disaster awaits. And,
  • The work itself. This may be more difficult to believe, but in constructive and high performing work teams, that actual job performed plays only a small part in long term workplace happiness and engagement. The mission may be incredibly important and can be a critical driver of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, but long term there are few (if any) differences across groups in the things that they describe as important, regardless of the work performed.

So what is important, and what makes a work experience truly memorable?

Competence – feeling competent to do your job and knowing those around you are competent and capable of doing theirs.

Control – Having the autonomy to get the work done and enough certainty that conditions are not going to change in the short term to negatively impact on getting things done.

But the biggest factor of all:

Trust – In each other and in those who lead. When trust is high, extraordinary things happen. Trust is empowering and enables smart risk taking. In high trust environments, status is respected but does not overwhelm and decisions are made in a spirit of fairness. In high trust environments, people are not placed into a “threat state”. Powerfully, there is a sense that we are watching each other’s backs and we close ranks and jointly problem solve when challenges emerge.

With careful investment in culture and leadership development, these conditions can be created in any organisation, but they never just happen by accident.