Information coming into the brain is processed on multiple levels as the mind seeks to combine sensory information, visual stimuli, and past experiences into a complete interpretation of the current events.
With so many factors involved in the interpretation of events, it should come as no surprise that two individuals could wind up with very different perspectives on events. Truly great leaders understand that a situation that may seem like no big deal to one employee may be the end of the world to another, and will help their employees to reframe negative events.
Reframing is a positive psychology technique used to change the way an individual views a situation, allowing a stressful event or traumatic experience to become opportunities to prove the depth of inner strength and bravery. In the office, reframing can help turn a particularly bad day into a learning experience and chance for growth, reducing the negative effects of stress on productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.
The first step to reframing is to become aware of the process of thinking and the patterns that occur. Managers must strike a delicate balance in helping employees to recognise their tendency to frame everything in a negative light, while avoiding causing the individual to feel attacked. Once the employee is able to recognise their predisposition for negativity, they can begin to watch out for these negative thoughts and to stop them in their tracks.
Once the employee has become aware of their negative patterns and committed themselves to change, managers should work to find a way for employees to incorporate positive messages into their thoughts. The drudgery of Mondays can easily become a chance to tackle the work week with passion and energy recuperated over the weekend, and the final hours of a Friday afternoon that never seem to end becomes a race to complete as many tasks as possible before the weekend.
While beginning to turn the negative thoughts into positives is a great start, managers must take care to continue guiding employees down their new positive path. It can be incredibly easy for those naturally inclined to return to a negative outlook on life. It may help for the manager and employee to work together to discover the underlying beliefs impacting their negativity. Encouraging employees to keep a journal of their thoughts can aid in identifying the underlying themes to their negativity.
The strategy of reframing thoughts can be used to improve the attitude of the entire office as well. A negative office culture can be turned around quickly by requiring employees to send at least one positive email to a colleague each day. If emails seem too personal, a message board could be placed in an area that would allow employees to anonymously leave positive notes for their colleagues. Within a few weeks, the typical office gossip will have taken on a progressively more positive note, and before long will be replaced by strong friendships.
The ultimate goal of reframing thoughts is to accept that negative events will happen, and that once they occur, they cannot be undone. Once an individual can accept that they cannot change the past or the actions of others, the shift to a positive frame of mind that is focused on the present moment can begin. When managers help their employees to let go of negative emotions and to reframe occurrences in a positive light, the workplace will become a much more pleasant environment and employees will be better able to concentrate on producing their best work.
Head of Training and Development
(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)
Originally published: 17 September, 2014
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