Staying positive can sometimes be hard work. We all face difficult days, stressful situations, deadlines and demanding workloads, and negative experiences. In the face of everyay situations where everyone around you is stressed out, uptight, and negative, how in the world can YOU stay positive?
Here is a simple acronym that can be used to help you remember some simple key points that can be enacted to help you maintian and project a positive attitude: ELIRN (I pronounce it e-learn).
E - expressions
L - laughter
I - internal dialogue
R - relax those around you
N - notice the good
It is well known that body language speaks in addition to words. Much of the research done in the fields of communication and human psychology emphasizes that the message perceived by the listener is definitely influenced by accompanying body language. (Parenthetically, the old adage that 93% of communication is body language is false, but that's a different blog post.) Of course we all know this to be true simply from our own human experiences, especially if one lives with a teenager. For example, the simple phrase, "okay" can mean "okay, sure, no problem," OR it can mean "OK, FINE, WHATEVER!" So, what is your body language conveying even before you have spoken? Are you smiling, frowning, or looking worried or frazzled? Are you standing in a relaxed and open stance, or are your arms crossed? Are you sighing in desparation or impatience, or is your breathing pattern relaxed and regular? Monitoring what your body language is projecting is a great way to gauge how you may potentially be perceived in a situation before you even utter one syllable.
Laughter is not only a great icebreaker before a speech, but it is a great way to help someone else perceive you in a positive and non-threatening way. Even if you're not about to give a public talk on your latest research and you're simply responding to a co-worker who found a mistake in one of your reports or a typo in one of your memos, laughter can help to loosen up the tension in almost any situation. Even when offense is given, or someone has approached you in anger, or they have reacted in ignorance, a little grin or giggle can help cool tensions down. There is a possibility of simply making light of your own faults, or of the pithy nature of the situation, or of the truly silly mistake that occurred, and simply defraying the tension with laughter. Laughter or a little giggle or grin can take what could become a very negative confrontation and turn it into a mutually humorous problem for the two of you to solve together. Don't take yourself too seriously, and don't be afraid with a little laughter and a smile to admit your mistakes.
Previous blog posts have addressed the power of internal dialogue, and how your internal thought patterns affect your brain chemistry and activity, mood, facial expressions and body language, and even your ability to communicate effectively. Whether it's constant fault-finding with yourself or others, negative thinking will completely derail any attempt you make to project a postivie attitude, and help others see you in a positive light. Negative thinking will actually strengthen those patterns of activity in the brain, and weaken the patterns of thought that lead to positive emotions and positive thinking. In fact, positive thinking and positive internal dialogue are really at the heart of a positive attitude, and without positive internal dialogue, it will be nearly impossible to "fake" a positive attitude. "I can!" "The team can!" "She meant well." "We'll learn from these mistakes." These are the thoughts that will help you to see the best in yourself and others. Positive internal dialogue is key to projecting a positive attitude.
Relaxing those around you, especially if you are in a position of leadership or authority, is a very important tool to not only projecting a positive attitude, but also to help your team maintain a positive attitude as well! Keeping others on track, on target, on task, working together, and motivated requires viligance, for sure, but it also is a much easier task when those around you are relaxed and feel good about their environment, their contribution to the outcome, their role on the team, and their leadership (you). Clear communication, clear expectations, and predictible outcomes are all great ways to relax those around you so that they are free to work and thrive within the boundaries and protocols established. Your positive thoughts, words, and attitude WILL project on them when they are in a safe frame of reference to receive it! Helping others to relax will provide an atmosphere where a positive attitude is more likely to be contagious.
Because we are "hard-wired" to see danger or threats, we naturally tend to notice the negative or think about what could go wrong. While this instinct is necessary for our survival, it can sometimes inhibit our ability to allow positive thoughts to prosper and dominate our daily thought patterns. A great way to help "re-wire" our thinking patterns from negative to positive, is to notice the good in others. When someone does something wrong, try to point out what was completed correctly, on time, and done well, before addressing the negative aspect of thier work. If someone responds to you in a negative or aggressive way, while this may be hurtful, try to train yourself to think that perhaps that person has just had a very upsetting phone call or was mistreated by a family member or co-worker. That's not to say that we should just accept or excuse mistreatment or inappropriate behavior in others, but if someone's response is uncharacteristically negative or rude, try to think about postive interactions you have had with that individual, and draw from those experiences before you approach them regarding their negative behavior.
You CAN give off "good vibrations," and help those around you to do the same! ELIRN (e-learn) is a great acronym to try to remember as the tools in your belt to help you interact more positively with those around you, and help spread those Good Vibrations!