Positive Psychology in the Workplace

By Mia Casey

Of all the soft skills you’ll likely accumulate in your lifetime, teamwork is one of the most important. It often incorporates several other transferable skills, including interpersonal communication, time management, delegation, and emotional intelligence skills.

One of the most important elements of establishing successful teamwork within the workplace, is making sure positive psychology (or more specifically, Psychological Safety) is reinforced on a daily basis. This is particularly important in workplaces that value collaboration and open communication between employees at all levels.

But first – what is Psychological Safety?

Professor Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School was the first to christen the term, and describes it as ‘a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking’. What does this mean? Well, it basically means everyone within a team is comfortable voicing their opinions, or just generally putting themselves out there. They know that they won’t be shut down, that their opinions are valued, and they won’t be judged for putting an idea forward.

To find out more on the topic, check out Dr Jacinta M Jimenez’s article on ‘Why Psychological Safety at Work Matters’.

4 tips on increasing positive psychology within the workplace

So! How can you help turn your workplace into a more psychologically positive zone? Here are our top four tips:

1. Be supportive

This may seem pretty obvious, but being openly supportive isn’t just about being nice to the people you work with – it also means providing encouragement in meetings when they raise a point, or making sure they know their ideas are valid when they raise them. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to agree with them! They may put forward an idea that you really don’t think will work, in which case it’s a matter of genuinely thanking them for having input, and keeping the floor open for further ideas.

2. Don’t stand for negativity

When you enter the workforce, you may find that many workplaces are a lot like high schools: there’s gossip, cliques, and some form of social hierarchy. If this sounds like where you work, then you may be in a bit of a toxic work environment!

While well-thought-out, and kindly presented criticism is always essential for progress, if you hear people saying something negative about a fellow team member then you should say something (if you can). This doesn’t mean you should tell your colleagues off, but rather try to gently mention that if you think anyone on the team is struggling with their work they should mention it to their manager.

Or, try to turn the conversation into something more positive – mention how well the team member did in a meeting the other day, or what an amazing job they did on a recent project. You don’t have to go in there guns blazing, but subtly trying to stand up for your team members is a good way to encourage positive psychology in the workplace.

3. Appreciate those around you

There’s no better way to make someone feel comfortable and proud of their performance than by offering them a genuine compliment. Maybe a colleague had a great idea during a meeting, or you’ve noticed that they’re really on top of the project their working on – after the meeting (or just next time you see them) let them know that you’ve noticed and you’re impressed.

Sometimes it can be a little awkward offering someone a compliment, especially if you haven’t really spoken to the person before. But really, what better way to properly introduce yourself than by telling someone that you think they’re doing great? Really, as long as you’re genuine and professional then it’s hard for a compliment to go wrong.

4. Recognise communication strengths

People communicate differently. Some are very comfortable in speaking up during a meeting and offering their ideas, others are more comfortable sending off an email offering their opinion and struggle verbalising their ideas when put on the spot. Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of those around you, and try to cater to them.

For example, if you’re in a meeting and asking for contributions to help solve an issue with your latest project then you’re likely to get a few people offering their opinions straight away. You may notice, however, that there’s one or two people on your team who are usually a bit reluctant to speak up in group settings. If that’s the case, mention that you’re also open to email contributions within a certain time frame in case anyone comes up with ideas later on. That way, you’re opening the pathway for communication from all team members.

Plus, if any of the quieter members do come up with a good idea – make sure to follow step 3 and let them know! By building their confidence this way and fostering positive psychology within the workplace, you may find they eventually become comfortable enough to contribute in group situations as well.

 

Basically, as long as you make sure people know that their ideas are valued, their presence is appreciated, and make them feel welcome in the workplace, then you’re encouraging positive psychology. It doesn’t take that much effort to do, but it can really make a difference in how well a team can come together and achieve success – plus, you’re likely to make some friends in the process!

 

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

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Author: Mia Casey

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