Are you unhappy at work? Maybe it’s time to have fun, find flow and flourish, says Penny Fray
You may have heard about the Happy Wives Club, the latest bestselling relationship guide. If you haven’t, you can amuse yourself by guessing what advice it contains, because it’s not hard: Don’t nag. Be grateful. Smile a lot. Which is pretty much what it takes to keep the average boss happy, let alone a husband.
No one wants a toxic troll on their team, emanating ‘I hate it here’ vibes. After all, discontent spreads. So a recent Gallup poll, which says that more than 70 per cent of people hate their jobs or feel disengaged with their work, is pretty bad, especially given the proven links between employee satisfaction and overall company performance. But it can get better, according to Suzanne Hazelton, a leadership coach and positive psychologist. The first step in having a great working day is to believe that you can. As Henry Ford once said ‘whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right’.
The second is finding flow – otherwise known as being in the zone. In order to feel engaged in this way, psychologists agree that there are several very specific criteria that need to be in place, such as having clear goals and getting immediate feedback on your performance.
“You probably have a couple of work activities where you find that long stretches of time pass in what seems like moments,” says Hazelton. “Find more of these activities. If an area of your job has become too easy – you may need to increase its complexity, perhaps by setting yourself new challenges.
“Also, have small goals – and achieve them consistently. I’m a strong advocate of having a big vision – but I combine this advice with having small goals. “Consistently achieving your goals creates a positive re-enforcement loop, which means you’ll get more done, feel better – and be working towards that big vision.”
Don’t forget to also design your workday to include more positive emotions.
“To thrive you need at least three positive emotions for each negative,” continues Hazelton. “Sometimes the negative is unavoidable – but we can focus on increasing our positive emotions. List what gives you pleasure. Find ways to incorporate more of them into your life. Gratitude, acts of kindness, and savouring things are all free and boost your positive emotions.”
Being the office ‘Pollyanna’ and radiating sunshine not only helps others but also boosts your own wellbeing.
“Workplaces with positive emotions are more productive. Most of us get satisfaction from being productive,” says Hazelton. “Be part of creating an environment where the emotions that are ‘caught’ from you are positive. For example, look for things that have been done well by a colleague, or even your boss – and pay a genuine compliment. “You might feel better as a result – emotions are contagious, and positive emotions contribute to success.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to morph into a ‘Stepford Worker.’ If you ask me, there’s something a little unnerving about the overly upbeat. It means they’re taking happy pills or are potentially bipolar – and the resulting crash can be calamitous. Likewise, no one wants to be a doormat, being walked over because they’re too scared to make a scene.
That’s why assertiveness is an important skill. You just need to keep things in perspective. As Aristotle once said: ‘anybody can become angry – that’s easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that’s not so easy.’ It’s a talent that can be learnt though. And in the workplace, people who have higher emotional intelligence ratings are judged to be better at persuading, as well as generating enthusiasm for their ideas and group decision-making. They also have higher ratings of job performance.
If none of the above tips inspire you, maybe it’s time to move on and find a new position. In the meantime, make the most of every workday. Even if you are just biding your time, remember that your boss will have to write a reference for you. If you are a happy, committed and quality-driven employee, chances are the recommendation will be positive and may just land you that dream job.
Boost work satisfaction by asking yourself the following questions:
Now take action.
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS:
“More than any other reason for why people leave jobs is simply that they don’t feel appreciated by their bosses. So give yourself a boost by remembering what you have achieved so far. Anchor the truth of all your hard work and keep your esteem up by having a portfolio of letters, special emails from clients and the people at the core of your work. Thank and appreciate yourself daily. And add to your positivity portfolio whenever something is achieved, keeping it somewhere in your sight to restimulate your passion” Rosie Malcolm-MacEwan, therapist at the Al Harub Medical Centre, Muscat
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