7 positive strategies to conquer your inner pessimist

The typical working week has its ups and downs. And if you regularly find yourself suffering from “Sunday night blues”, it’s time to ask why and what can be done about it. Because having a positive attitude can help you succeed in day-to-day projects, get a promotion or just generally enjoy your current job more.

Are you falling prey to negative or hostile work attitudes around you? Or is dissatisfaction with your own job sending out bad vibes? Can you control the situation that is causing the negativity? What is your company doing to promote employee engagement? No matter what your circumstances, here are our top tips for addressing negativity and banishing the blues.

Tip #1 – Own your role in any negativity

It’s easy to be unaware of our constant inner monologue, so pay deliberate attention to your thoughts. Notice whenever you doubt your own abilities, find yourself saying “can’t” or “won’t”, or feel resentful about being given a task. Then visualise the outcome if you looked at the situation in another way – believing in yourself, saying “yes” to a favour, or feeling proud to be asked to handle more responsibility.

Tip #2 – Get a holistic picture of your stress levels

Sometimes, our attitudes at work are carried over from experiences at home – relationships, kids, personal finances or other problems. Conversely, if work puts you in a bad mood, it’s easy to bring that stress home. Look at your overall stress levels and identify any aspects of your life that are making it harder to maintain a positive attitude. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your inability to recharge may also be making you grumpy, so consider adjusting your bedtime (or your working hours, if your company allows a degree of flexibility).

Tip #3 – Report issues quickly and professionally

Nobody likes a chronic moaner or tell-tale. But if there are clear reasons for negativity at work, bring them up with your manager – repressing your feelings can lead to passive-aggressive behaviours. Be professional and constructive when raising the issue, and try to bring a solution to the table or at least have a clear idea of how you expect your boss to support you.

Tip #4 – Set clear responsibilities and goals

Is there a part of your job you simply dread? Maybe there’s someone else in your department who loves the task you hate and would be happy to help share the load. Are you feeling like a hamster on a wheel? Don’t wait for your annual appraisal: sit down with your supervisor and set some realistic yet challenging goals for the next three to six months that will give you added satisfaction and benefit the company. Your extra contribution and willingness may even prove grounds for a pay rise!

Tip #5 – Smiling: fake it ‘til you make it!

Believe it or not, our bodies can reinforce our emotions. Studies have found that people who were asked to make unhappy faces during an unpleasant medical procedure reported feeling more pain than those making neutral or relaxed faces. Simply smiling, even when you don’t feel intrinsically happy, can be a mood-booster and help to disperse negative feelings. Your co-workers may also come to regard you as a more friendly and likeable person.

Tip #6 – Do as you would be done by

You don’t have to like everyone you work with, but maintaining a professional attitude and doing your best to see situations from others’ point of view can go a long way to cultivating a harmonious workplace. It’s always nicer to get a pat on the back than stabbed in the back, so express your appreciation by acknowledging a job well done, thanking your peers or subordinates, and celebrating others’ achievements and milestones.

Tip #7 – Remember, it’s only a job

At the end of the day, your job does not define you.  If you dislike your current situation, try to focus on the positives – whether that’s the colleagues you enjoy being around, or how your salary allows you to indulge in certain hobbies or treats – while you explore your options. If you don’t like your role or line manager, consider what you can do to get noticed for promotion. If it’s the company itself, spruce up your CV – even if you don’t apply for another job, it’ll remind you of the value of your skills and talents. If it’s your industry, consider an online course or evening classes to help you get into a field you find more fulfilling.

Peter Jones's rules for business success


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About the author

Clare Kemp is Senior Campaign Manager for Northern Europe at Citrix. In her spare time she enjoys playing golf, tennis, attending fitness classes and walking her two crazy cocker spaniels. She really enjoys the flexibility of being able to work from home as she hates wasting time sitting in traffic on the M25. Connect with Clare on LinkedIn and Twitter. More blog posts by Clare Kemp ››
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