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Why Negativity Is Detrimental In Workplaces - And What You Can Do To Turn It Around

Have you ever worked in an environment in which people complain a lot, where rivalry and cynicism are common practice, or where collaboration, gratitude and appreciation are underused?

In this blog post I want to share why an environment like that undermines performance, productivity and long-term satisfaction in workplaces. But rather than preaching about things we shouldn’t do or don’t want, I want to focus on the opposite.

I want to share with you why cultivating positive emotions in the workplace can:

  • Improve individual satisfaction and fulfillment at work

  • Boost organizational/ business results

Some Neuroscience

To be able to make sense of any of this, it’s essential to understand how emotions impact the way our brain is performing. So let’s start with some very basic neuroscience.

Our brain performs significantly better when we experience positive emotions. When we feel good, all kinds of “happy hormones” are released in our bodies. Those hormones (and neurotransmitters) open up the neural pathways to a part of the brain called the neo-cortex, also referred to as the ‘thinking brain’. And with the ‘thinking brain’ more active, all kinds of great stuff happens.

  • We think quicker and more creatively

  • We’re better at complex analysis and problem solving

  • It’s easier for us to see and invent new ways of doing things

  • We connect better with other people

Just imagine how this might impact our performance and productivity, as well as our relationships and communication with team members and costumers!

When we’re in a negative state (of mind), those same neural pathways are narrowed, which in turn restricts our resourcefulness, problem solving, creativity and our ability to work together towards a common goal.

Can you see why negativity is detrimental in workplaces? It has been shown to reduce performance and productivity and to increase sick leave, turnover and burnout.

Cultivating Positive Emotions Pays Off

Now we understand a little better how emotions impact the way our brain performs, the question arises:

How can we use this knowledge to improve employee satisfaction as well as business results?

When I’m talking about Cultivating Positive Emotions in the workplace, I’m referring to things that you can do, for yourself and for others, that contribute to a positive and therefore more productive work environment.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy? No, I’m not advocating that everybody in the office has to jump up and down with joy all day, every day.

This is really about the small, quick things that you can do on a consistent basis that make a difference in your, or somebody else’s, workday. And it doesn’t even have to involve the emotion of joy. Some of the other emotions that release some of those “happy hormones” are: gratitude, pride, inspiration, hope, amusement and interest.

With that in mind, what might be some of the little things that you can start doing today to cultivate some of those positive emotions in your, or somebody else’s, workday?

Inspire Others

We would love to hear your creative ideas and how they assist you and your team at work. By sharing your experiences you might inspire others to start taking control over their wellbeing, performance and success at work.

We’re also interested in hearing about your challenges and struggles. It isn’t always easy to change personal or workplace habits. We’d be happy to assist you if you’re struggling to implement positive changes at work. Feel free to reach out!


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