Remember that time, when a coworker you have a challenging relationship with, contradicted your opinion? Especially over an email. Your reaction might have been defensive, even if s/ he was right. Research indicates that we interpret all emails more negatively, than their writer intended them to be! Now apply this insight to our workplaces, where over 60% of our communication happens over emails. Not the best picture, right?

But, let’s not beat ourselves up about it. This cognitive inclination is a survival instinct. Our minds process negative information more thoroughly than positive ones, because early humans had more danger in their environment. However, this predisposition could hinder our workplace success.

The need? To make the shift towards seeing the best in others. Only 25% of our job success is based on intelligence and technical skills. The remaining 75% of long-term job success depends upon our ability to positively adapt: optimism, social support creation, and constructively managing perceived threats like feedback, hierarchy, change initiatives, different opinions/ ideas, and even new employees.

There is a single skill involved in making this shift – priming. In psychological studies, a ‘prime’ causes a person to experience a certain emotion, and that impacts their behavior or performance. Doctors come to the correct diagnosis 19% faster when primed to be positive. Salespeople have 37% higher levels of sales when optimistic. In fact, a meta-analysis of employees at companies reveals that nearly every single business outcome improves, when their brain is positively attuned. So, you’re bound to experience success in many forms.

And, it gets better. Being able to persuade or influence others is a critical job skill. Especially for leaders. Priming helps with that as well. When we believe that others are capable of changing their attitudes or behavior for better, we’re more likely to advance our own. But when we think others’ beliefs are fixed, we don’t try to persuade them. And that limits us, because we continue believing we are better than the rest!

How can we prime ourselves? Explore situations that you feel challenged with, through these questions:

  • What is the silver lining in this scenario?’ Look hard if you must, but find at least one.
  • What is his/ her real intention?’ Use this powerful question when you receive feedback.
  • ‘How do I want to feel and react ideally?’ This is an attempt at being mindful, before responding.

In conclusion, positivity isn’t all fluff and comes with loads of benefits! Got more ideas on how to get there? Tell us.

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