Have you ever considered the incredible effects of mind-sets on the ways in which our brains operate? Recent research is quite fascinating; in short, we can apparently change the way our brains work on a physical level, simply by altering the things that we think and talk about! On one level, this is amazing, because simply by practising gratitude, we can rewire our brains for positivity.
On another, it is quite alarming: We all know how easy it is to slip into a cycle of negative thinking, and according to this article complaining could actually be killing you through the stress you generate. Worrying, right?
Even if you think that this sounds a little far-fetched, there are some important things that we can take away from the research. One particular aspect that struck me, and one that psychologists agree on, is that negativity breeds negativity, both in yourself and others. If this is the case, how does it translate to the workplace?
Morale and Engagement
Whilst a whingeing session with colleagues may feel cathartic, it’s actually doing us more harm than good! Negativity is contagious, so when one person in a workplace constantly complains, it is very easy for the people around them to get sucked into the same pattern of thought. This is self-perpetuating, and what started out as a seemingly innocent moment of gloom soon spirals into something much worse. Morale plummets, engagement follows, and soon you have a workplace full of demotivated, disengaged employees.
With stress and disengagement comes low productivity
Staff who are stuck in the downward spiral of complaining to each other are likely to be tired from stress and to feel resentful towards the company, so it is inevitable that productivity will be steadily falling.
Unhappy staff translates directly to staff leaving if they can, which means that your organisation is now faced with the costs of having to hire new employees, and the struggle of trying to make sure that they don’t follow the pattern detailed above. This isn’t sounding ideal, is it?
The Flip Side
Now we’ve got the gloom and doom out of the way, we can look at how we can combat all of the things mentioned above. Dr Christian Jarrett details the results of recent psychology experiment, which suggest that ‘the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mind-set’.
So it’s pretty simple: Both positivity and negativity are self-perpetuating.
The effects of encouraging a culture of gratitude in the workplace? Well, the opposite of what we’ve already discussed!
In theory: Morale and engagement will be up as people feed off positive attitudes, which in turn will lead to increased productivity and better employee retention.
But how can you create a positive culture?
In most companies, culture is something that trickles down from the leaders to the employees. This means that if you lead, you need to be quite careful about the way in which you think and act. As we’ve seen, negative thoughts and actions have quite severe repercussions.
Of course, we all have bad days, and it’s both unrealistic and unhelpful to suggest that we can all be bouncing off the walls in joy all of the time, but what we can think, as written by Parton, is the following:
‘“Yes, this sucks. But what’s the lesson? What can I take away from this to make me a better person? How can I take strength from this and use it to bring me closer to happiness in my next moment?”
What do you think? Can the way you think affect everyone in the workplace, or even affect your health? We’d love to hear your views!