SUMMARY POINTS

  • Negative work environments can affect your productivity and health
  • Creating a positive work environment starts with you
  • Small mindset and behavior changes is all it takes to spark positivity
Everyone has a lousy attitude.

There’s always at least one office drama playing out.

Work is a totally shitty place to be.

You’re overworked and undervalued.

You can feel the negativity as soon as you walk through the door.

People are here because they have to be. Definitely not because they want to be.

It’s not just entry-level employees that are affected by this. The cycle of negativity filters down from the top executives and infiltrates every part of your workplace.

Unhappy employees are bad news for your company’s success. Productivity is down and morale is at an all-time low.

Spending so much time surrounded by negativity is bringing you down.

You’re trying super hard to stay positive and stop it from spilling over to the rest of your life. It’s just so damn hard when everything around you is so negative.

Sparking positivity into your workday doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part. With a few small changes, you can start turning the tide against the never-ending negativity.

What A Depressing Workplace Does To You

For a few lucky people, going into work is fun and exciting. And, having fun at work is the holy grail of work life happiness.

However, most of us don’t feel that way and it’s often linked to bad (or even toxic) vibes.

When you dread even the thought of going to work, the effects can spill over into every part of your life.

It’s not just work - your physical and mental health can quickly decline too.

Working in an environment that doesn’t even have a hint of positivity can result in a bunch of unpleasant effects, for both employees and the company. 

1. Your Productivity Plummets 

A negative environment zaps productivity. No-one can do their best work in a joyless and soulless place and it shows.

It’s super hard to be creative and energized. Most of the time, you’re just trying to get through a rough day. It’s an uphill battle that just never seems to end.

When your co-workers feel like this too, it’s not hard to see why productivity and growth can be non-existent.

Feeling undervalued and unimportant aren’t conducive to being inspired and motivated to reach new heights. They’re a sure-fire way to increase your stress levels though.

The health effects of chronic stress can destroy your productivity too. When you’re not feeling on top of your game, physical and mental energy is hard to come by.

It’s a drain on morale and the company’s bottom line.

In a positive work environment, it’s the opposite story.

You feel motivated and confident to bring your A-game. You get into the zone more often. And as a team, you’re striving to help the company reach its goals.

2. It’s Super Stressful

Just walking into a depressing and demoralizing workplace is enough to crank up your stress-o-meter. And that’s before you’ve even sat down at your desk.

Stress isn’t the only problem.

You may also feel resentment at having to show up to work and face the negativity. Hell, you might even feel angry and feel like quitting too. These emotions eat away at you and it’s not a healthy place to be.

One of the major culprits for this is negative rumination or replaying events over and over in your head. Since there’s so much negativity to dwell on in a shitty work environment, there’s endless scope for this self-torture. 

3. It Affects Your Physical Health

You might walk away from the office but a lot of times, that shit stays with you once you get home.

Dealing with the effects of a negative work environment is a 24/7 problem and it affects your physical health too.

Insomnia is one of the biggest problems, as this study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows.

Constant stress from a negative workplace can also cause these problems:

High blood pressure
Tense and sore muscles
Lowered immunity
Digestive problems

When you don’t disconnect from work, you’re constantly straining your mental health and not letting your body and mind recover and heal.

How To Create And Spread Positivity At Work

You have more power than you think to change your work culture from negative to positive.

It’s like dominos. One starts to topple over and before you know it, the whole row is gone.

Positivity in the workplace can snowball too. It might start off with you but it can soon spread much further.

There are lots of ways to influence the attitude of your co-workers and it all starts with your own mindset. 

1. Create Your Own Positivity

Waiting for positivity to come to you? It usually never happens.

But if you take charge of positivity for yourself, you‘re in control of it. See yourself as the creator of your situation, not the victim.

It’s linked to a phenomenon called the “broaden-and-build” theory.

Never heard of it before? Here’s the brief version.

Positive emotions such as joy and contentment are a springboard for opening up new opportunities and viewpoints, which form the basis of learning new skills.

Negative emotions stunt this so right now, you’re probably going through the motions when it comes to doing your work and not thinking about new skills. In fact, you probably feel stuck and unmotivated.

Spark some positivity into your workplace and your productivity and creativity could be unleashed. 

2. Celebrate Small Wins

Have you heard of negativity bias? Science suggests our brains are wired to put more emphasis on unpleasant things. And we think about them a lot more too.

You can be having a super positive day until it’s instantly ruined by one comment from your boss or co-worker.

And it always plays over and over in your mind far more than a compliment, right?

Making a big thing of small wins is one way to counteract this.

Children get incredibly excited about some of the littlest things in life. Just saying “crispy chicken fingers and ice cream” will make nearly any kid jump for joy.

But as adults, we only get excited about really big wins and ignore all of the small victories that helped make it happen.

When you’re trying to create positivity at work, celebrating these smaller wins helps you stay enthusiastic. In a super negative work environment, it can kick start motivation that’s been crushed.

Got a compliment from your boss?

Found the courage to speak up in a meeting?

Crossed a tricky item off your to-do list that’s been bugging you for ages?
They’re all examples of confidence-boosting small wins.

And, when you have these kinds of moments, it’s mandatory that you celebrate small victories by giving yourself a mental high-five, doing a little dance in your head or at least doing a self-righteous fist-pump in your cubicle.

If your negative work culture means you can’t share it with any of your co-workers yet, save it for your partner or a friend. Either way, make sure you celebrate it. You’ll be craving another success in no time. 

3. Show Gratitude To Your Co-Workers

Unless your co-workers really suck at their job, there will be moments when you can highlight their strengths and express gratitude.

Practicing gratitude in the workplace can help build trust with your co-workers. If it feels as though you’re all in it together, it’s a lot easier to spread joy.

Next time a co-worker has your back, let them know you appreciate the support.

And as a daily habit, look for ways to throw a compliment to a colleague about their work or say a quick thank you.

It may seem like a small thing but it’s an easy way to start injecting positivity into your interactions with co-workers and trigger some happiness at work.

It’ll instantly boost their mood and self-esteem and if it catches on, it can have a snowball effect. Before you know it, it can help spread a culture of positivity and mutual appreciation across your office.

The golden rule? Keep it genuine.

A fake interaction that a co-worker can see through in a heartbeat can be just as demoralizing as the negativity you’re trying to combat. 

4. Use Positive Communications

When you’re talking with colleagues, the language you use can shift the office vibe from super negative to optimistic.

Think about the last time you had a good interaction with your boss or a colleague. They probably used positive language that gave you a confidence boost and made you feel good, right?

You can do the same for other people.

Even if you’re delivering not-so-great news, you can soften the blow through the language you use. Try to find ways to spin it into something positive.

Okay, there will be times when you’ll really struggle with this one, especially if you’ve got assholes at work testing every shred of your sanity.

Use positive language when you talk to yourself too. It can make all the difference to your attitude and mindset. It’s one of the ways to deal with the asshole in your head.

5. Simply Smile

How often do you smile while you’re at work? Probably not very often when your workplace is a positivity-free zone.

Don’t wait for an opportunity to come around. Regularly engaging the same facial muscles when you smile is the key.

Smiling when you’re not happy might sound strange but there can be lots of benefits.

Check out this YouTube video to hear more of the psychological effects of smiling. Plus, there’s a neat trick you can use to start reaping the rewards.

Hint: it’s right on your desk.

VIDEO: Just Smile
YOUTUBE: Andy Luttrell
LENGTH: 6:13
Summary points:
  • Activating “smiling” muscles makes you feel more positive
  • Smiling brings positive emotions to the forefront, including happiness
  • Don’t just fake a happy smile - push yourself to feel genuine benefits
It’s backed up by science too. This study from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that facial expressions can affect emotions.

You don’t have to sit in your cubicle with a perma-grin all-day. That would just be super weird— especially if you’re not known for being the office optimist.

Smiling at colleagues every now and then can change the mood though. When you smile, your brain releases dopamine. That’s the “feel-good” neurotransmitter that helps you feel happier.

And it’s infectious too. People feel happier when you smile at them. Most of us feel obliged to return a smile and that’s because it’s hard-wired in our brains.

According to this study published in the Trends in Cognitive Science journal, people often mimic other people’s facial expressions to reflect that emotion in themselves, often subconsciously.

Positivity At Work Starts With You

Work may be the last place you want to be but the culture of negativity that’s infiltrated every corner of your office can be overcome.

Sure, it won’t become a hub of positivity overnight but you can kickstart changes that help to get there. And, it all starts with you and with the small stuff.

When your workplace is a super negative place to be, it can feel like you alone can’t make a difference. But what if you wind up being the catalyst for driving change, one person at a time?

With a few mindset and behavior changes, you can help yourself and your colleagues feel more positive about being at work. You’ll be letting happiness happen at work more often.

Every hallway interaction, meeting, conversation or email is an opportunity to spread some joy.

And if nobody wants to join you on the positivity bandwagon, that’s okay. After all, this is about making yourself happy first and foremost.

Eventually, they’ll all catch on. 😉

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]

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