I read an article from the Harvard Business Review titled “The Benefits of Saying Nice Things About Your Colleagues”. It was a great reminder that we all have opportunities to create a more positive space in our workplace.
Reflecting upon my various work experiences, I’ve found that the “constructive criticisms” and negative feedback can really sting and tends to happen more often than positive feedback. It usually starts with either “do you have time to talk?” or “we need to talk.” Gulp. My stomach is in my throat when I hear these phrases. Rarely is the “we need to talk” phrase for anything good.
We should be lifting people up more than we bring them down.
All too often, it feels like we gravitate towards the negative comments and incivilities; this can be being critical of someone’s work, chatting ‘behind their back’ with fellow colleagues, an incensed sigh and rolling your eyes. Negativity is louder. It hangs around longer. It’s like breathing in a thick smog and slowly choking.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to address issues that are going on, to correct mistakes that are made. However, it is in these times where the act of being kind may be needed most: choose your words wisely and remember you are talking with (not at) another human being.
How often are you praised?
I’m not one who requires someone to stand up and yell for the world to hear how awesome I am, but I do appreciate a “you did a great job on project X” in passing conversation, or in meetings, something to the effect of “thanks to Allison who really got the ball rolling on this.” It goes a long way.
When was the last time you said something nice?
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the week for us to be exuding positivity that we just don’t take. Saying “thank you,” “you did a great job” and other simple phrases can make such a difference in one’s day. Try it!
And for those of you in leadership positions, like it or not, you are role models. Petty slights and incivilities do not go unnoticed and will either be mimicked by your staff, or you’ll start to see higher employee turnover if you haven’t already. Try sharing positive feedback in private and in public. I’m sure you have perfect opportunities throughout the day to lift people up.
As the authors so brilliantly state at the end of the article, “every day we have opportunities to help others create positive meaning in how we communicate about our colleagues. It’s worth it to stay aware of these moments and take advantage them.” We can choose to take advantage of these occasions, we just need to see them and speak up.
My challenge to you:
Every day for one week, make a conscious effort to say three nice things to people. I bet that by the end of the week, you’ll have made people around you feel good and you probably will be feeling pretty great too!