Last week at the Strategic HR Network OD Conference I had a good time delivering a workshop session on Positive Psychology at Work. I take the time to craft these sessions carefully and have fun with them. It’s important to me that in a setting like this, it’s not just the sage on the stage spouting wisdom after wisdom. I believe that I have some knowledge, but the learning happens at an individual level, so I need to build that in to the session.
I made a connection afterwards where someone asked me – how do I create a positive language about the work I do?
Man. That’s a hard question.
I have no secret to this, or even thought about what that development might look like. All I can do is reflect on my practise and what I do with it.
I guess the first thing for me is being self-aware of the language I’m currently using. It’s not just that I’m generally a positive person, or always willing to help someone see the best of a situation. There’s something more for me about expressing and articulating myself in a way which remains true to my belief. I believe everyone can be their best self, so I have to use a language which supports that belief. If I don’t then I am not being true to my own belief.
Which then means I need to slow down in my speech. Articulating my thoughts into a positive experience means I need to be mindful about the words I’m using, and mindful about what I want to express. So I take my time. There’s no rush. If I want this dialogue to be meaningful then I need to let my thoughts catch up to my mouth.
I don’t not say negative things, I just say more positive things. This isn’t some weird ass ratio thing I’ve got going on. I just don’t like saying negative things. I will when I need to. I’ll happily call a spade a spade if that’s what it is. I don’t deny reality, and I don’t shy away from difficult conversations. I’ll call out bad things when I see/hear them, and I’ll be right in there defending people if it’s appropriate to do so. And sometimes there’s a real need to explore something fully before you can move past it. Even in these moments, I’ll use words which may have a different focus if I think it’s useful. I get that wrong a lot, but I won’t stop trying.
It’s hard work talking positively. So sometimes I switch off. It doesn’t happen a lot in truth, but I can’t sustain talking positively all the time. Instead I’ll just choose to keep neutral. If I have nothing positive to say, I won’t be negative. I’ll just voice where I’m at, and let it be known that there’s no judgement to what I’m saying, but that’s where I’m thinking.
I didn’t start cultivating positive language because I am a student of positive psychology. I’ve been cultivating it for years. It’s partly why I enjoy corporate communications. Most messages can be written well, and written to have effect, while not being boring or staid. If that’s true, why not focus on that? So I find excuses to cultivate positive language in most areas of work I do. I was reflecting on my blog from the early days. It used to be a ranty blog, and although an outlet, didn’t help me be my best. When I started focusing on writing well, and writing for a variety of personal purposes, that’s when I started to enjoy it more.
So there you have it, I think.