Communicating Positivity at Work - IEDP
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Communicating Positivity at Work

Neuroscience reveals the influence of positive emotions behaviour at work

Wednesday 16 September 2015


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If self-awareness is the first step to being an effective leader, the next step is surely awareness of others, and then being able to communicate with others. In a recent article in Gulf Business by two business psychologists, Alex Davda from Ashridge Executive Education, Hult International Business School and Louise Lambert from the Canadian University Dubai, consider the importance of being able to communicate ‘positivity’ at work.

Positivity, as they define it is about the experience of positive emotions, like gratitude, curiosity, elevation, and inspiration. The neural processes that dictate the dynamics of the emotions we experience may not yet be fully understood, but neuroscience does clearly point to the influence positive and negative emotions have on our behaviour.

Positive emotions help us by broaden our vision and as a result our perception, focus, and attention increases, expanding our thoughts and behaviours in a way that can helps us capitalise on opportunities. Positive emotions can also counter the damaging physiological effects of negativity – such as stress and anger – decreasing our reactions to stress and improving our immune system responses. Furthermore positivity encourages people to take better care of themselves through better diet, more exercise and adequate sleep.

The advantage from a work perspective is that positive individuals tend to be able to generate creative ideas and solutions, and can integrate information effectively leading to better decision-making, they are also cooperative and collaborative and able to develop inter-personal trust. According to the authors “People who experience frequent positivity show greater work productivity and are able to engage in greater emotional self-regulation, self-control, and delay of immediate gratification.”

In their article Davda and Lambert go on to suggest these 5 ideas for generating positive emotions:

Gratitude: Select a person in your organization who has helped you in the past and drop them an email or post-it note to say thank you. Saying it in person too will give you both a boost and get some positive energies flowing.

Connect with others: Recognise someone who gets ignored and tell them why they are great. Simply tell them that their efforts are being noticed and you do see and appreciate it.

Kind acts: Doing something for others prevents us from over thinking problems and contradicts our mean world assumptions. After all, if you are capable of goodness, others are too. Even a small gesture such as buying someone a latte and leaving it on their desk as a small token of your gratitude can promote more positivity around you.

Change your mindset: Pretend you are being job-shadowed all day and demonstrate a positive work attitude. Creating an internal audience and feeling observed can help us change our moods more easily than just struggling alone.

Reminisce: This strategy takes no time at all. Think of your favourite memory; a trip, your daughter’s graduation, your son’s first steps, your weekend on the beach and recollect the details. What you saw, how you felt, what you heard and experienced. Really put yourself back there and watch your positive mood increase.


Hult Ashridge Executive Education helps organizations around the world improve their leadership talent, strategic thinking and organizational culture.

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