How to Combat Your Negative Mood at Work
Once or twice each week, my local barista is the very first person I interact with in the morning. He's not friendly, seems unwilling to even crack a smile or mutter a "hi," and every time I stop for coffee I pray he's not there and maybe, just maybe, he has found a job that makes him feel more alive.
So, then I walk into work with my hot cup of grumpy-made coffee and assess the scene. Pretty quiet, as I am an early arrival to my floor at work. I have a decision to make: Do I carry forward my barista's bad mood into my workplace, or do I stop the cycle right then and decide to cast a positive mood across the rows of cubicles? Of course, if you know me at all, you know I choose the latter.
The trouble is, most of us do not stop ourselves to make that conscious decision before they enter their workplace or wherever they may spend most of their day. They leave it up to whatever mood baggage they carried from the day before or the side of the bed they woke up on. They let their subconscious decide. That is a big mistake, because you are in control of your own mood, and to enter a new day with anything less than a positive outlook is just setting yourself up for yet another day of negativity.
Why Does Mood Matter So Much?
In a recent study, customer service representatives (CSRs) were surveyed throughout their work day, it was shown that people who started off with a happy mood typically carried that mood with them throughout their day. By contrast, people who started with a terrible mood never really came out of that dark place, even when they interact with positive, happy people.
Furthermore, those service representatives who fell into the happy-mood camp tended to produce at a higher performance level than those who were negative. No surprise there. The negative people were prone to take a lot of breaks and "zone out" of their work as a way to escape their stress, and this led to a greater than 10% loss of productivity.
I think it's important to remind ourselves how integral we are as team members to the greater good of our work environment. We are allowed to be critical, yes, but at the same time we can avoid being critical in a negative way. Being a positive critic means you offer a positive solution to a negative situation. Otherwise, you are just pointing fingers at the negative and doing nothing to change for the better.
I had a boss once who only spoke up when she wanted to complain about something. She stayed quiet when there were business successes to celebrate. I didn't stay at that job very long!
Moods Have Consequences
Could you imagine your boss pulling you aside one day and saying to you:
"I want to talk about your mood, Ms. Nelly McNegative. You are sucking the life out of the entire team with your depressing demeanor, your curmudgeon-ish commentary, and your acrimonious aura. I'm afraid no tropical vacation could vanquish your venomous vitriolic verbiage. No amount of caffeine could calibrate your cantankerous cacophony. Get out!"
This could happen to you, if you become addicted to the negative drug. It brings down your entire team, and only those who do not waver in their optimism can block your negative vibes. As we know, negative moods decrease productivity, creativity, job satisfaction, and innovation.
From a personal standpoint, I stay positive in the face of any negativity that comes my way because there is no acceptable alternative than to do so. If I walk into work with the weight of the world on my shoulders, and then unload on all of my co-workers, how likely do you think we will all have a good, productive, enjoyable day? Not very likely! We spend so much of our lives at our workplaces - often more time than with our families and friends. Make the most of that time with a positive mood!
Gaining a better sense of how our emotions are entangled in our daily lives allows us to be more in control of our moods and how it affects us, and others around us. Emotional Intelligence is a relatively new science that seeks to understand and shed light on.
- Self Awareness: This includes good intuition and good decision-making
- Self Management: Handling your emotions, especially in stressful times. This also relates to how we enthuse ourselves to become more involved.
- Empathy: Knowing what someone else is feeling
- Relationships: Being able to juggle all of this together into forming better relationships.
Learning a bit about emotional intelligence and putting the four points above into daily practice will have tremendous impacts on improving your moods. You may want to read"Emotional Intelligence 2.0" by Travis Bradberry.
In Closing Your Day, Be Positive About Tomorrow
I'll leave you with a few quotes, spoken by people more positive than I. Read these tonight before you close out your day, so that perhaps you will wake up tomorrow with a positive outlook.
“An attitude of positive expectation is the mark of the superior personality.” – Brian Tracy
“The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
“No matter what the situation, remind yourself “I have a choice.” – Deepak Chopra
“Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” - Stephen Covey
“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Francesca Reigler