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Shift Your Focus to the Positive

Evan Hackel

I recommend telling people five positive things for every comment that could possibly be interpreted as negative – so in effect, you are operating on a ratio of 5 to 1 in positive versus ambiguous or less-than-positive communications. This practice will transform your leadership on the job, and it will produce surprising transformations in the way you interact with your family members, friends – in fact, with everyone around you.

Many of us don’t spend enough time giving positive feedback. Some of us say nothing at all until they need to comment or correct something that we think someone is doing wrong. Over time, this negative pattern causes others to feel unappreciated and so defensive that when you approach them, they know that you are unhappy with them. Is that good leadership? Is it a good way to interact with the people you love?

In contrast, you can be on the lookout for good things and call attention to them in positive ways. Concentrate not on perfection, but on the progress and hard work that you see in other people. If you apply this philosophy consistently, everyone around you will be happier, more motivated and less distracted by worry. Please try it and again, let me know how it has helped you.

Action Step: Identify three important activities that seem to have you blocked. Try to reframe them in positive, not negative ways and see the difference it makes.

Express Appreciation to People Every Day

Expressing appreciation seems like a small thing to do. But just like using the Three Things, it exerts a surprisingly profound force on everyone around you. You can express appreciation to members of your family, to people who work for the same charities and organizations where you do – and to people you meet everywhere and anywhere as you go about your life.

If the babysitter you hired to watch your kids one night did an especially caring and capable job of it, mention how much you appreciate that. Express appreciation for the gas station attendant who washes your windshield, to the waitperson who did an exceptional job attending to your family at a restaurant, to the woman who holds the door of the ATM to make life a little more pleasant for you instead of letting it close in your face.

Every time you express appreciation, you are creating a more positive world, both for you and for everyone around you.

Action Step: Tell someone right now that you appreciate something they have for. Pick up the phone and make a call to do it if you need to. How did that make you feel? Who is the next person you will appreciate?