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WorkHack: The Attitude of Q. & D.

WorkHack: The Attitude of Q. & D.

Aloha, let’s manage with aloha: Work well, live well.

Last week we talked about what employees need to learn from their managers. What can managers learn from employees? Virtually everything they need to know about the things which affect the productivity of the business they manage. Whether you are the employee or the manager, I’d wager your list of learning nuggets would be a long one.

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What I’d like to offer you today instead, is another tool on HOW managers can learn what their employees know (footnote below). This tool is something we know of in managing with aloha as the Attitude of Q. & D. This is the attitude that Q.&A.’s are not good enough where you work: Question and Answer gets replaced with Question and Dialogue.

These are the implicit expectations of Dialogue:

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There’s potentially more than one answer to any question,
Those answers best come from more than one person,
In responses, pieces of an answer, and the beginnings of an answer are okay,
Weighing in on a question reveals more possibility when it is collaborative process.

The best answers and the right answers can be elusive things in companies. One nagging reason for this is that best answers remain hidden behind the ones we’re too quick to settle for. They arrive in conversations with the culprits of “the way we’ve always done it,” “what the boss will probably want,” and “yeah, that’ll be good enough.” As managers, our job is to dig deeper, and to reveal all the options until we arrive at the best one.

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The good news is that so many of these gems can be readily found in the collective intelligence of our people. How do you mine those gems? By learning to ask better questions, and then creating an atmosphere where dialogue is always expected to follow sincerely inquisitive questions (as opposed to leading questions). You want the synergistic effect where 1 + 1 can equal 3—and usually does.

This means more than the elementary phrasing of “open-ended questions.” It means that most everything at work worth improving and building on can be questioned. It means asking questions when the timing is right for exploratory back and forth dialogue. It means welcoming an alternative that may differ from yours, and being willing to see this happen more often than not. It means getting creative. It means admitting you don’t have all the answers, and you don’t pretend that you do.

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“This may sound a bit out there, but what if we ______? What do you suppose is the best and worst that could happen?”
“______ is always a lengthy process for us. Do you know of any time-wasters, redundancy, or unnecessary steps we may be taking with this?”
“What’s been your experience with ______. What have you noticed about ______?
“I’m stuck. I need a new idea with ______. Can you help me?”
“What do you think?”
“What do you think?”
“What do you think?”

One more very important thing: It means never testing people in those situations where there is just one answer, and you have to require compliance (think safety, think legality, think core values).

More on September Learning right here on Lifehack.org with me, every Thursday of this month. On every other day, you can visit me on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha,
Rosa Say

Previous Thursday Column: 5 Things Employees Need to Learn—from You.
Footnote: The first tool I’d mentioned was The Daily Five Minutes.
Reference: Managing with Aloha

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Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic

How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic

Let’s be honest. When you’re going through a difficult time in life, doesn’t it drive you crazy when someone says, “just be optimistic”?

Everyone has that one overly-optimistic “Positive Pam” friend who sees the good in everything. Trying to find anything to be happy about when you’re struggling feels unrealistic.

The question remains: “Why is it difficult to pull upon happy thoughts when everything in life feels like it’s falling apart?”

Well, the root of the problem lies in the brain. Your brain isn’t designed for happiness because its focus has always been on promoting survival, it saves the happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) for opportunities to meet a survival need.[1]

While all of this is true, it is still possible to train your brain to be optimistic so that you can find the silver lining amidst life’s greatest adversities.

You Can’t Be Positive All the Time

Before I talk about how you can do this, you must realize that you aren’t expected to be positive 100% of the time. You’re human and life happens.

Have you ever had a solid plan in place, and then life comes along and says, “Let’s explore rock bottom for a while instead?!” You’re allowed to feel sad, angry, or negative sometimes.

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However, the trick is making sure that you don’t live in this place for too long. Disempowering emotions serve their purpose in the short-term but can become destructive to your overall quality of life in the long-term.

When it comes to thinking positively, I think a lot of people have a skewed understanding of what positivity should look like. You don’t have to sing in the rain or smile 24/7 to be deemed a positive person.

Appreciating the smallest of things can work wonders for your mindset, such that, over time, you start wiring your brain to seek out and expect more positives. This speaks to the power of having an attitude of gratitude.

Research has shown that gratitude can improve general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen social relationships, and reduce stress and depression.[2]

The more grateful you are, the happier you are.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, happiness won’t always be your automatic response. Rather, it’s a choice that you have to make every single day.

3 Ways You Can Train Your Brain to Be Positive

Similar to any habit, your brain conditions itself to think and behave in certain ways through repetition. Thus, if you engage in daily rituals that enhance your positive thinking, over time you will rewire and train your brain to become more positive.

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Let’s talk about 3 ways that you can train your brain to be positive:

1. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Your mind is a powerful tool – you can either fill it with positive thoughts or negative ones. The average person has thousands of thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative, and 95% of which are exactly the same thoughts as the day before.[3]

If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time in your head. This is where your inner critic loves to hang out and try to convince you of all the reasons why you’re not good enough or why things won’t work out.

Not surprisingly, if you play this disempowering record over and over again in your head, eventually you will start believing it.

People get into trouble when they define who they are based on how they think. You are not your thoughts, so don’t believe everything that you think. This is why it’s so important to practice challenging your negative thoughts.

The next time that you have a thought that doesn’t serve you, stop and reflect upon whether or not that thought is accurate. Once you determine where the fallacy is in your thinking lies, step back and ask yourself, “Is this thought building me up or tearing me down?” If it’s the latter, reframe the negative thought to a more empowering one.

The fastest way to change your life is to change your narrative. Small shifts in your mindset can trigger a massive shift in how you perceive yourself, others, and the world.

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2. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Your success in life is determined, in large part, by your environment. If you want to be an optimistic person, you have to surround yourself with optimistic people. End of story.

As Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Take a moment and think about your close circle of friends. Are they inspiring and driven people who uplift and empower you? Or are they lazy, negative, and toxic?

If it’s the latter, I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to find new friends.

When you surround yourself with positive people, you’re more likely to adopt empowering beliefs and see life as happening for you instead of to you.[4]

Decide who you want to be and find people who embody those traits. When you raise your standards, your circle will change and so, too, will your life.

3. Make Your Mental Health and Well-Being a Priority

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a drastic increase in mental health issues. The isolation, fear, uncertainty, and economic turmoil that people are facing around the world is a breeding ground for psychological distress.[5]

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Given the current state of our world, there has never been a more important time for us to make our mental health and well-being a priority.

The question remains, “How do you stay positive when everything sucks?”

It’s all a matter of perspective.

We know that the mind and body are connected. If you ignore one, the other one suffers equally as much. Research has found that taking care of ourselves physically and mentally can influence our happiness and train our brains over time to be more positive.[6]

Looking after your mind and body means creating a daily self-care ritual, consisting of eating healthy foods, exercising, meditating, doing yoga, staying connected with friends, journaling, reading, and practicing affirmations, to name a few.

Anything that helps you manage your stress and connect with the present moment is key. Even in the most challenging of times, it is always possible to find something to be grateful for. By choosing to focus on what is good in your life and what makes you happy, you will grow stronger in the face of adversity.

Now Is the Time to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic

Your mindset is everything. Thinking positively is as important as your skills or talents. We cannot always control our outer world, which is why it’s imperative to cultivate a strong inner world.

How you respond to adversity will determine your success in life. Have faith, trust in yourself, and believe in what is possible. When you think positively, positive things will happen.

More Tips on How to Be Optimistic

Featured photo credit: Dayne Topkin via unsplash.com

Reference

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