Positive or Negative: Do We Have A Choice?

Positive or Negative


If we had to choose — knee-jerk reaction — would we be positive or negative?

I want you to think about yourself for a moment before you keep reading. Where do you find your tendencies lie … in the positive or the negative?

This subject came up a few weeks ago when I was talking to someone about whether we were born positive or negative. Someone tried to argue the point that we are born negative and had to learn how to be positive. I thought, it couldn’t be true!

In the process of my research, I found this article: Are We Hardwired to Be Positive or Negative? And it talked about the implications that come with positivity and negativity in our leadership.

Research shows that negative perspectives are much easier to pass along than positive perspectives. Meaning, our inner and outer attitudes are much more susceptible to bad news than good news.

Did you know there are more negative emotional words in the English dictionary than positive? The breakdown is 62 to 32 percent. And according to the article, “Positive experiences have to be held in our awareness for more than 12 seconds in order for the transfer from short-term to long-term memory.”

So what does it all mean? Are we more positive or negative?

I guess it depends on your focus.

If everything around us — and sometimes in us — is begging us to respond negatively, how will we intentionally fight against it? It starts with your leadership, from the top down. This is how I think you can do that:


1. Celebrate wins well.

Humility is a real thing, but don’t brush past success when it happens. If positive experiences really do take longer to transfer to long-term memory, spend enough time on the wins for your team to remember them!

2. Push past loses productively.

While it’s important to figure out why things didn’t work, focusing too much on losses can negatively impact your workplace. Don’t beat a dead horse when it comes to analyzing mistakes.

3. Make positivity a discipline on your team.

The biggest takeaway I got from this article was that being positive is an intentional choice. If we aren’t disciplined, being negative would be a whole lot easier than choosing positivity. Recognize the overly-negative practices or tendencies in your organization. Make small, intentional choices to be positive today.

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My opinion: We do have a choice. Regardless of how our brains are hardwired. I believe it’s up to us as leaders to point our team towards positivity if we’re going to be our most effective, productive, and successful selves.




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