How to consciously change culture through conversation

Ask someone how they’re doing at the end of a workday, and often you’ll hear, “I’ve been better” or some equally downtrodden response. Comments like these can negatively impact your mood – as well as the people around you.

Instead, why not consciously use your words to promote happiness, positivity, and productivity in the workplace and at home?

Here are four easy ways that you can strengthen both your personal and professional relationships through your words.

1. Start on a positive note

Use a “power start.” Begin meetings, calls, emails, or even breakfast at home with a positive and uplifting statement. Research shows that how we begin a conversation predicts how well it turns out. For “Shark Tank” fans, this plays out as 45% of successful entrepreneurs smiled while walking in, while only 21% of unsuccessful entrepreneurs did. See? It’s contagious.

Try it: Greet co-workers, customers & family with a smile in the morning, or remark on how much you’re enjoying your cup of coffee (rather than complaining about how tired you are.) In emails, try a positive subject line like “Our next great collaboration,” versus “2017 project plan” Even something as small as adding “Hope you had a great weekend!” to an email can make a difference.

2. Manage your memories

“Flash memories” are the first thoughts or associations you have in response to a particular stimulus. Changing them from negative (“Last time we tried this, we failed“) to positive (“We’re on a roll – we’ve got this“) can increase motivation and performance. The way we view the world and how we operate within it is strongly influenced by our memories of the past. So how can you manage what you remember?

Try it: If your team or family needs motivation, spotlight what’s working well that may be predictive of future success. It also helps to attach an emotional connection. For example, share client feedback with your team about how their work has made a difference. Also, tell these success stories over and over: Repetition is critical in creating positive flash memories.

3. Assume innocence and check facts

Research shows that the differentiator between seeing stress as good or bad is the set of “facts” – real or assumed – a person uses to evaluate a situation.

Try it: Say you’re convinced your boss hates you. You got along fine for a while, but your relationship has suddenly changed. Then, a co-worker tells you the boss’s husband is in the hospital. Wouldn’t you instantly soften and assume that might be why she hasn’t been herself recently? Sometimes, it only takes one fact to change the story.

4. Take a step back

We all know a “Debbie or Dave Downer” who’s always complaining or tearing down others’ ideas. Taking a “retreat” from the negative people in your life can be crucial to creating more positive relationships at work. Don’t underestimate the harsh effects negativity can have. Negative people have the ability to impact us down to a cellular level and even shorten our life span. What’s more, negative emotions (depression, anger, fear, anxiety) emitted by others are highly contagious, especially if those people are particularly expressive.

Try it: Sometimes the most effective way to deepen a conversation is to retreat from it, then regroup and reenter the situation with a “double-take do-over.” How it works: Start with a power lead (praise your difficult colleague for a project well done); ask the question and keep any follow-up questions to a minimum; and leave on a good note (“Thanks, that was really helpful.”)

If this sounds like the type of conversation you would like to join into, and you live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, come on over to a heartspark Connections. Consider yourself personally invited!