10 Ways to Build a Positive Atmosphere

By: Jan Bolick
February 7, 2012

10 by 10 on TuesdaysThis week’s quick list* is a companion piece to our Quote of the Week for Heart Month: Energy flows where attention goes.

There is so much negative talk out there – on talk radio, television, twitter.

I’m not sure where it started, but it’s spreading. In epidemic proportions.

Is it infected your organization?

Can you believe what he said? Can you believe what she did? Can you believe the way he just looked at me? Did you see the way she just put her pen on the table?

The negative begets more negative. If allowed to continue, the cycle will strengthen and take over, leading to a downward spiral of morale, productivity and overall performance. Bad for the heart of a business. Bad for the heart of each person in it.

Strong leaders recognize and know how to break negative energy cycles. They also know how to prevent them. It’s all about strong, consistent attention on the positive. Positive thoughts. Positive feelings. Positive results. Here are 10 ways to break and prevent negative energy cycles from taking over your mind, your home and/or your office – and build a culture of positive energy instead.

One last thing before the list, I’m not suggesting a sugar-coated, Pollyanna approach. It’s not a cover up of facts or negative events. The facts are needed to get the results we need.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. This doesn’t have to be a fancy book though it can be. Just a scrap piece of paper will do as well. Before going to sleep each night, list 5 things for which you are grateful. Don’t brood over it. Just list the first things that comes to mind. Could be coffee, my cat, my bed, the sunny day and my headache went away. For extra credit, ask your spouse the same question and list his/her answers as well.

2. Start each meeting by making a list of things to celebrate. Ask participants: “What can we celebrate?” Or change the question to , “What are you happy about?” Have people call things out. Or go around the room and ask each person to share one thing. Make this fast and festive. Maximum of 5 minutes; 2-3 minutes would be better. Words or phrases are just fine. Have someone act as scribe, writing each comment down on a flipchart page or wipe off board. If possible, leave the list up and add to it each week.

3. Have a gripe session. If things have really been tense…some bad stuff going on….have a gripe session. For more detail on this, see: How to Have a Great Gripe Session. Be sure to do part 2 – asking the question: “What do you want instead?”

4. Make a pact with yourself (and anyone else who makes hiring decisions) to only hire positive people from now on. You can teach skills but it’s hard to teach a positive approach to life.

5. Make expectations clear:

with new hires. When you hire people, let them know that you have and want to keep a positive and productive work environment.

with current staff. If the entire team has been fallen into the Negative Nelly mode, tell them that having a positive work environment is important to you and you need their help in making it more so. They may not realize that they have been affected but they will be glad you are calling for an end to it. Maybe not at first. Negative Nelly is never glad about anything. But she’ll come around. And if she doesn’t, that will be another decision for you to make.

Use a one-on-one approach if there are just one or two naysayers on the team. No need to drag the entire team into it. Just say to each person that you prefer a positive attitude and you notice she isn’t so positive. Is there something wrong? Is there something you can do to help? Perhaps she just needs to know that she is important to you and the team. Perhaps she needs weekly one-on-one time with you.

6. Set a good example with your positive attitude. This doesn’t mean you act like Pollyanna or Cheerful, the cheerleader. Just don’t slide into the Nancy Naysayer or Negative Nelly mode. Think of Lucy, the level headed, listener who listens to the tough stuff and asks good questions that help people solve their own problems.

7. Share stories. Make story telling a regular agenda item. Share a story about someone doing business the way you want to do business. It could be a story about someone in your business. Or in another business. Feel free to use these about Doing Business with Heart . Share one or more at a staff meeting. Invite others to bring stories to your next meeting. In case no one brings a story to your next meeting, be prepared to share another story from this site..or bring one of your own. Soon others will bring stories to share.

8. Track progress and achievement. Progress makes people feel GREAT about themselves.

9. Show appreciation. Give recognition. Celebrate. Do fun stuff. Get ideas from our monthly celebrations calendar.

10. Share quotes. Business Class subscribers have affected huge change by simply posting our Quote of the Week on the wall. They didn’t have to say a word. Here are a few examples. Click on the quote below to read more, download, print, etc.

Get more tools for take-charge, inspirational leadership! Register to receive our Leadership Quote of the Week.


Need more help on breaking the negative cycle and building a positive one?

We invite you to tell us about you and your situation here.

Jan’s specialty is working with leaders to take charge in more effective ways, make things happen and inspire others to do the same.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Learn more here.

*Note: 10 by 10 on Tuesday (also know as a Quick List) is a weekly feature is for managers who don’t have time or don’t want to make time to read lengthy articles or even short paragraphs. Here you will find 10 tips or questions or steps or ways to Get 2 Goal or Be a Better Manager, etc). And it will be posted by 10 (AM – EST) on Tuesdays. Here’s our collection of Quick Lists to date.

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