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You’ve worked on a report for three weeks. You think it’s one of your best pieces of work since joining this new team and manager. You’ve pushed yourself and are expecting your new boss to be over the moon with the report you prepared for her. You send the report to her and the team the night before for their review.
You get to the team meeting first and are looking forward to getting a positive reaction from your boss. She comes into the meeting a few minutes late, seems distracted and rushed. As soon as she sits down, she begins to point out how she thinks the data on page 14 needs to be changed and presented in a different way.
She explains her logic in a way that you perceive she’s disappointed that you didn’t do it her way in your draft. She makes a few more recommendations about what she’d like to see changed. At the end of her explanation she pauses, looks directly at you and says, “Thank you for a great piece of work.” And then she moves on to the next agenda item.
When you leave the meeting and get to your desk, how do you feel about your report?
This micro skill points out the benefits for learning how to celebrate the positive.
Life can be challenging – perhaps the most challenging part is interacting with other humans. Many of us are hyper-sensitive to negative comments or feedback. For those who are more sensitive than others, whether we know it or not, our self-competency (for example, our belief in our knowledge and skills) is attached to our self-esteem. When our self-esteem is low, we’re less likely to celebrate any positive feedback, because we’re distracted and focus only on the negative.
Negative comments without context often can end up being received as just a negative. However, when we can look at an event in context and allow ourselves to acknowledge negative comments as feedback, it’s ultimately our choice whether to accept any or all of it.
Learning to celebrate our good moments is training our mind to be open to learn from mistakes, and to enjoy the positives.
Some of us, when there’s positive and negative feedback, can automatically ignore the positive and focus on the negative.
One important step toward celebrating positive moments is acknowledging them and labeling them as we do negative moments. Celebrating positive moments is good for our mental health.
Celebrating our positive moments doesn’t mean we need a party; it means allowing ourselves to take a moment to enjoy them. The act of celebrating can be defined as simply mentally acknowledging the significance of an event. Our mental health can be positively impacted by quietly reflecting on and recognizing these moments, rather than taking them for granted.
The wonderful thing about our brain is when we focus on positive events, we release good chemicals that flood our brain and help us feel well. That contrasts with focusing on negative events that can flood our brain with stress hormones.
In a world where there can be lot of negative comments, demands and expectations, the act of allowing ourselves to celebrate our successes and moments can teach our brain to look for positives and to enjoy them when they come, no matter how small.
Here are three steps for celebrating positive moments:
1. Desire – The core of this micro skill is promoting mental health. To benefit you must accept that what we think has impacts our mental health.
2. Accept benefits of quiet personal celebration – Celebrating small wins for a moment is by no means a sign of arrogance. The science of neuroplasticity and psychology teaches that opening ourselves to the possibility that learning and practicing new ways to think positively can improve our brain’s wiring and our ability to better enjoy life.
3. Take 60 seconds – This micro skill doesn’t require much effort or time – a minimum of 60 seconds is a good start. When you think or feel you’ve done something positive or someone else points it out, take a moment to celebrate. Instead of dismissing it and moving on to the next moment, reflect on the positive. Learning to celebrate the positive can help develop the habit to look for positive events and to take a moment to flood your brain with good chemicals. Over time, this habit can have a positive impact on your mental health. There are lot of negatives and positives in life. Take time to enjoy the positives; it can help manage negatives when they come along.
Bill Howatt is the chief of research for work force productivity at the Conference Board of Canada, and former chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell.
You can find other stories like these at tgam.ca/workplaceaward.