I received many responses from July's article on "Negativity in the Workplace" including some great resources for turning negativity around.

It started with friend and colleague Barbara Wilson's email quoting Patch Adams: "The most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be publicly happy." We talk so easily about what we don't like. And yet it feels almost forbidden at times to talk about our happiness.

Barbara's email was followed by one from Olen Jones. Olen is in community relations with National Community Renaissance(National CORE), an organization that develops quality affordable housing throughout the U.S. Olen says there isn't a lot of negativity in his workplace, and one reason may be that CORE has an intranet Blog where contributors can post answers to questions like: "What's RIGHT with National CORE"? Olen writes: As my friend Jim Lord says, "Isn't it interesting how easy it is to talk about what's wrong, but SO difficult to talk about what's right? It's almost like we have made some kind of agreement that this is how we will talk with each other -- like we find our connection with each other around how 'bad things are.' Hidden inside those conversations is an understanding of what we do want. Why not talk about that instead?" Focusing on what we do want allows us to move in that direction; there's just no movement in avoiding what we don't want! Why not focus on the possibilities contained in the 'positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and acts of kindness' we have seen?"

This resonates with me. It sometimes seems as if there's an injunction against being too happy. We don't want to stand out from the crowd, appear different, weird, or as if we're putting on that happy face to show off or cover something up.

Olen put an assignment on the National Core blog for anyone interested in pursuing this line of positive inquiry. I offer it here, with Olen's permission, and I have already begun to practice it myself:

1. Think about three things that detract from your work experience.
2. Now ask yourself what are the things you value that are hidden inside those three things? For instance, if a pet peeve of yours is people showing up late and/or unprepared to meetings, a "hidden" value in that negative feeling might be "showing respect for other people's time."
3. Find the three values you're able to identify, and how they relate to your work.

Last week, I found myself heading in a negative direction when I stopped by a local retail store just prior to closing time only to find the owner had already gone home. I looked for the hidden positive value and realized how much I appreciate it when people keep agreements and commitments.

I'd love to hear how you used this exercise to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones.

Finally, as I re-read my article from last month, I noticed I too was focusing on the problem when I said "There are loads of articles on the Web about Negativity in the Workplace." I have since found there are at least as many sites that focus on the positive.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict (www.unlikelyteachersbook.com) and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit www.JudyRinger.com