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How You Can Become An Optimist Easily

How You Can Become An Optimist Easily

Why all this talk about how you can become an optimist easily?  The answer is that optimism is one of the essential ingredients that makes you successful. That is what Jeffrey Garten, Dean of the Yale School of Management found when he interviewed the top most successful entrepreneurs in the world. Yes, all 40 of these CEOs were optimistic.

As if this was not enough, optimism is the gateway to better health and a more active, rewarding social life. Being an optimist means that you are less likely to get a heart attack or cancer. This research was carried out at The University of Pennsylvania.

Before beginning, take the optimism test which has been devised by the BBC Horizon TV program.

How did you do? If you got full marks, there is no need to read on! If you got a low score, stay on this page because I am going to give you 12 useful tips on how to become optimistic.

1.Don’t let past failures stalk you

In many ways, you can be a prisoner of your past as you keep on carrying past failures with you, like heavy luggage. Convince yourself that these failures are a closed book and that you need to throw out this unwanted trash. Not that the lessons learned from failures should be forgotten!

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Look at Oprah Winfrey. She was told she was not suitable for television. Thomas Edison had to cope with 6,000 failures before succeeding in making the first electric light bulb.

2. Time for stock-taking

First, think of all the positive things in your life. Note them down on a list. Then in a second column write the obstacles, problems and failures. This second list is essential as you can note with asterisks what was the lesson learned from each of those debacles. You are now coming round to the idea that failure is part and parcel of life. But you need to be upbeat and confident. Onwards and upwards.

“No matter where you are on your journey, that’s exactly where you need to be. The next road is always up” – Oprah Winfrey

3. Think positively

When you look at the list again, you notice that the list of positive things will be longer. There are so many things to be grateful for. Many potential failures became successes. Look at your achievements again. Think about your positive character traits.

4. Optimism empowers you

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier”- General Hillier

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General Hillier was well known for advocating how important it was to remain optimistic when soldiers faced terrible dangers in Afghanistan. He told his staff that it was their duty to display optimism and communicate that to their soldiers. This is the path to success. In addition, optimism costs nothing!

5. Try smiling

“Smile, it’s free therapy” – Douglas Horton

Try scowling at people and you get nowhere! Try smiling and see what happens. You will most probably get a smile in return. Smiling brings loads of benefits. Study after study shows that it can help you live longer, cut stress and even boost your competence. Your popularity will rocket. It will also help you to remain cheerful. Zero cost!

6. Limit your exposure to bad news

We are surrounded by negative news, 24/7. Turn on the TV, computer or smartphone and there is a deluge of tragedy, extreme weather, death, destruction, crime and injustice. If you watch or absorb too much, it will drown your positive thoughts.  Pessimism will start taking a hold.

7. Give yourself a present

Think of an achievement you have had at work or in a personal relationship. Celebrate your success by praising yourself. But this is just not for successful achievements. If you can apply this to how you have cleverly analyzed a screw up, then you really are on a winning streak. If you find yourself saying: – ‘OK, I screwed up but I now know why- it was because I forgot to do X, was misled by Y and was careless about Z’. Now that really deserves a prize because you are poised for success the next time round.

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8. Build on your success

The next time you face a challenge, list your achievements to date. Each success is a milestone along the path of life. Just by keeping this in mind, you can remain optimistic. It also helps your self-esteem.

9.Think big

If you are an optimist, going for gold is no problem. You just have to watch out for the cynics and the pessimists along the way. There is nothing to be ashamed of in aiming for the stars.

“Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it– Daniel Dennett

10. Put negative events into perspective

Inevitably, things go wrong sometimes. This is a fluke and not likely to be a regular occurrence. It is a one-off!

11.Use the power of language

If you have to lead a team or even manage a personal relationship, it is vital to be able to use conversations as vehicles in which you can inspire and motivate people to embrace optimism. There is no substitute for a real live conversation.

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12.  Focus on the solutions

You meet pessimists every day at work. They are the ones who complain and start telling you about all the obstacles, problems and difficulties. If you are an optimist, you will be able to use upbeat language and start to find a solution. Once your brain is wired into thinking about solutions, answers and success, you will be much more optimistic.

Before you get up every morning, think about why today is going to be a great day. Say to yourself: ‘Today is the day I am going to achieve X, Y and Z’. It is a great way to start the day and you will never look back.

 “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” – Helen Keller

Featured photo credit: Thumb up from Laura/ Active Steve via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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