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Positivity Leads to Higher Levels of Performance

by Beth on January 26th, 2010

Positivity is good for your health and good for your relationships.  But the benefits of positivity don’t stop there.  Positivity is also related to successful performance in many different areas of life.  The discovery by Barbara Fredrickson that positivity changes the way your mind works is what led to my excitement about the possibilities of organizational positivity.

Positivity broadens your mind

So what exactly did Barbara discover?  She found that positivity works in the opposite way as negativity.  Negativity narrows our focus.  This helps us to respond rapidly to a threat, like the fight or flight reaction.  Positivity, on the other hand, broadens the range of ideas and behaviors that come to mind.  It opens us up!

Because positive people are more open, they take in more information, which helps them see multiple solutions to problems and make better decisions.  When people experience positive emotions they feel safe and secure, so they can think in more divergent ways without feeling threatened.  Thinking outside the box leads to greater creativity.  Positive people are also more curious and interested in learning new things.

Positivity impacts performance

The impact of positivity on the way we think influences all kinds of performance.  Students do better on standardized tests when they generate positive emotions before taking the test.  Doctors who are given a bag of candy to increase their positivity are more likely to make a correct diagnosis.  Managers make better decisions and negotiators reach optimal agreements when they are positive.

It gets you thinking about how your company could benefit from increased positivity, doesn’t it?  Positivity leads to better decision making, increased creativity, and greater flexibility.  It is related to higher levels of job performance, prosocial behavior, supervisory evaluations, perceived customer service, and collaboration.

What are you going to do today to start creating a more positive climate in your organization?  Keep checking back here for tips on increasing organizational positivity.

  1. I think a lot of it is practice. Positive thoughts come naturally to some, less so to others. For those people, it helps to keep reinforcing the positive thought pattern to make it a habit. I also like the candy idea a lot.

  2. Meredith Peabody permalink

    Beth: This is great. I never really thought about this before but think it has great potential and application in today’s business environment.

  3. Beth permalink

    Thanks, Suzy. You are absolutely right! Some people are naturally more positive than others, but everyone can learn ways of increasing their positivity. It is due in large part to intentional thoughts and actions that are under our control.

  4. Christiane permalink

    Beth, thank you for this article! It’s something that we should remind ourselves all the time. A long time ago I read all this books from Dale carnegie, napoleon Hill, etc, and we need to practice in a daily basis. Even before getting out of bed you can decide if your day is going to be a great day or terrible…

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