No matter how successful we are, negative thoughts can crowd out our positive ones. Negativity bias is wired into us for our own good by evolution and can’t be ripped out of our brains; but fixating on negative possibilities can cause stress or anxiety. This bias towards negativity leads you to pay much more attention to the bad things that happen, making them seem much more important or prominent than they really are.
This is certainly true with many people in the workplace, with various studies showing that up to 60% of British employees are disengaged in their jobs. Some employers recognise this, investing in employee benefits and leadership development to reduce it. But many more don’t. We believe more companies should work harder to improve engagement, however, critically we believe that the employee has a responsibility for their own engagement.
For a multitude of reasons, including chemistry and biology we’re more likely to register a negative event then we are to take a compliment. This negativity bias can cause you to dwell on something negative even if something positive is equally or more present. The most important factor in tackling negativity bias is how we talk to ourselves about our experiences. So, the next time you’re feeling like you don’t belong or you’re not up to the demands of the job or everything in your company is bad, check to see if its negativity bias playing it’s part.
Take yourself through these tips:
Revisit the employee you were – we all start and join a job motivated and engaged. Take yourself back to that point in time, ask yourself why you were excited to join your current company and reconnect with it.
Identify the good parts in your life that are made possible because of your work. This is an objective look at the good things in life that your job makes possible.
Look beyond salary – ask yourself what do you want your work to do for you apart from pay you? Yes, most people work for money but it can give you so much more if you look for it.
Rediscover the purpose of your job – ask yourself what your role contributes to the overall success of your company. This is particularly important if your company is big, as you can sometimes feel like just a number. But you’re not.
Your skills & talents – Identify the skills and talents you bring to your workplace and also to your team. This helps you feel like you contribute.
Celebrate the small wins – Take in the good!! Spend more time soaking in positive experiences, even the small ones. Small wins can boost your sense of competence and enhance creativity.
Praise the positives in other people – Emotions are contagious. When you acknowledge the strengths and talents of those around you, not only will you lift them, you will also lift yourself.
If you’re reading this as an employer – how can you help?
Employee engagement is much more than simply having fun and as an employer you have a responsibility in the workplace to help empower employees to find their identity at work. A lot of people won’t recognise that they are victim to negativity bias, yet you will see it in cynicism, complaints or general apathy.
Negativity bias inhibits people from making positive changes to their thinking or behaviour. This in turn affects their performance - Success doesn’t bring happiness, happiness brings success. The simple process of learning about the bias and recognising how it affects oneself can be accomplished with training. This is particularly useful where the goal is to enhance resilience, emotional intelligence and wellbeing. When negativity bias is at play in a business there will be a measurable deterioration in performance, emotional intelligence, creativity and wellbeing.
Remember, emotions are contagious. The good news is no one is a prisoner to negativity bias, we can help raise awareness of when our minds slip to negativity to then pull it back.
At Chilli Pepper Development we have a number of ways we can help you to support your teams with their emotional intelligence and leadership skills including, workshops, short course, behaviours assessments and professional coaching for more information get in touch : [email protected]