Has someone ever told you to “just think positive”? Have you told yourself that?
I’m not a fan of that expression. Frankly, a lot of negative things happen in this world, and we must acknowledge that without glossing over it with a veneer of positivity.
But one thing I do think is helpful is to think positive about other people.
Positive thinking is a powerful tool
The ability to pause and reframe our thinking is a powerful tool in our professional toolbox and helps us be better leaders.
Here’s what I mean:
We all have a dialogue that runs through our heads about other people. We tell ourselves stories about them.
Sometimes those stories are just that — made-up stories in our minds.
Pause, listen to the story you’re telling and change the dialogue
Let’s say someone at work really frustrates me. Maybe we don’t get along. Maybe she is difficult to work with.
I can get angry at her and stay stuck in my frustration. Or, I can assume positive intent about her. I can assume positive things about her rather than sticking to the negative dialogue.
I could say to myself “Karen and I butt heads on occasion, and sometimes she frustrates me. But I know she cares deeply about our mission and the people we serve. We have that in common. I know she means well.”
When we assume positive intent about someone, we pause and stop listening to our own made-up story about this person, a story that might say “Karen is a hateful witch, and she always puts down my ideas.”
Instead, we suspend our negative thoughts about Karen. We try to understand her before we engage with her. We give her the benefit of the doubt. We assume the best about her. Pausing like this and altering our thinking allows us to understand Karen better.
You can only control your own thoughts, beliefs, and actions
It’s important to point out that Karen’s actual behavior may not have changed. She may act the same way. But we reduce our frustration. We release some pressure and tension. Our interactions with her may become just a bit more positive and productive.
We have no control over her thoughts, her attitude, or her behavior. The only things we can control are our own thoughts and beliefs, our attitudes, our actions, and our reactions. If you’d like to learn other thinking tools to help you become a better leader, reach out to me.