Challenge your negative thinking to boost your performance

As human beings, we are hard wired to notice and give more focus to negative rather than positive things. Here we give you seven ways of challenging your negative thinking to help boost your performance.

Creating high performance always sounds like a good idea. As we adjust to a world that is constantly changing, delivering high performance is probably more important but more challenging than ever. We are surrounded by negative news. Our British culture has a strong tendency to enjoy swapping anecdotes of how bad things are and we enjoy black humour as an art form.

We are predisposed to notice and give more focus to negative things. Quite simply our ancestors realised that negative changes in the environment could mean danger and death – and not many positive changes had as big an upside! People are therefore more likely to talk about bad experiences than they are to mention good ones.

Unfortunately, negative interactions have a more powerful effect on us than positive. At an HR conference in Ireland in 2013, leading psychologist, Dr Maureen Gaffney, talked about some research into the characteristics of high performing teams and companies.

One striking feature is the ratio of positive versus negative interactions. A typical person averages 2.5 positive interactions for every negative one. Flourishing individuals who are successful and healthy average 4.3 to 1. But high performing teams and organisations show significantly more positive behaviour with 5.6 positive interactions for every 1 negative. They adjust their thinking and their behaviours to be significantly more positive than their baseline state.

So how can you lift your performance and become a positive beacon in your environment? The answer is simple – relentless focus on the positive. Here are seven ways you can challenge the negativity:

  • Boost your appreciation of your own and others’ strengths and talents
  • Look for the opportunities that do exist or have opened up
  • Renew your clarity about what you want to achieve and why
  • Catch yourself and others doing things well and point them out
  • Expand the habit of exploring new options and ideas
  • Paint yourself and others a picture of how you can move forward
  • Repeat good news stories

Don’t underestimate the influence your positive thinking will have on others. Whether you are a leader formally or informally, you have the opportunity to make a difference. So do everyone a favour: rather than being the one who always says “mustn’t grumble”, instead be positive in your behaviour!

With thanks to Rosie Miller of RosyFutures Executive Coaching.

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