Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

11 ways to be more positive at work in 2014

December saw the release of several Best Places to Work lists, giving lots of folks a severe case of office envy. Instead of succumbing, perhaps we should ask ourselves if we are doing our part to help create a positive, pleasant atmosphere at work. While we can’t all work at companies with foosball tables and napping lounges – let alone the caliber of leadership that builds and sustains an enviable corporate culture – we can each resolve to do our part in 2014 to help create and sustain positive vibes. Here are 11 ideas to get started.

• Arrive at the office a little early. If you’re rushing into the office right on time or, worse, running late, you are stressed out before you even walk in the door. And tension is contagious. Come instead with a sense of calmness, engage in some coffee talk and ease into the day.

• As the day progresses, “Notice how you are holding something in your hand – a pencil or a cup, for instance. Sometimes we exert so much force holding things that it exacerbates tension without our realizing it and sends signals to coworkers about our mood and approachability, says Sharon Salzberg, author or “Real Happiness at Work.” (Workman, January 2014)

• Disseminate scraps of kindness. “Take the nearest scrap of paper or Post-It Note, and write something kind on it. Then leave it somewhere unexpected,” suggests Karen Walrond, author of the lifestyle blog “Chookooloonks” (a Trinidadian term of endearment). These can be anonymous and tucked among the coffee filters, inspirational and tacked on the break room bulletin board, or specific and placed on someone’s keyboard or monitor.

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  • • More formally, “Celebrate coworkers’ success with handwritten cards or even banners when the occasion calls for social recognition,” suggests Tomeka M. Prescott, owner of Prescott Wireless 1, an electronics retail store with three locations in South Carolina.

    • Offer sincere thanks. “Be simple, direct and specific about the person’s contribution and what it meant to you and the team,” Salzberg says. Whenever possible, emphasize how that person’s part “fits into the whole,” she adds. It makes people feel valued, less like a cog and more likely to report to work with a positive attitude.

    • Show appreciation, “not just the formal work someone does, but also the small but important things that contribute to a pleasant environment, like tidying up the kitchen,” says Sarah Thrift, CEO of Insight Consultancy Solutions, with offices in San Francisco and London.

    • Participate in office events such as birthday parties and holiday potlucks. There’s no need to go all out every time, but don’t be the one who always brings some second-rate, store-bought snack (or nothing at all). If these events seem forced or stale, punch them up by suggesting a theme or supplying decorations.

    • Don’t contribute only calories. Bringing donuts to the weekly staff meeting seems like a nice gesture, but if co-workers are trying to eat healthier foods, it can backfire and lead to resentment. If you’re the one eschewing sweets, bring in a veggie plate to share and don’t comment on others’ food choices.

    • Assume positive intent. Gracie probably isn’t bringing in donuts to sabotage your diet.

    • Build in some time each week for helping, and ask others what you can help them accomplish within this designated period. Offers to help will come back to you in return. Even if they don’t, you can then ask for help when needed without misgivings.

    • Expand your social circle. “There’s a tendency at work to form little cliques, but what you want is for everyone to become one big, happy family,” says Jeff Fermin, a director at the employee engagement software company Officevibe. Break down the walls by organizing all-inclusive activities such as 10-minute exercise or stretch breaks. (There’s an app for that!) Or compliment or ask an opinion of someone whom you don’t typically interact with.

    © CTW Features

    Dawn Klingensmith CTW Features