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Do you work with people who are always looking at the negative side of life? How does this make you feel?

Looking on the bright side

Optimism is especially important for managers when coping with the pressures from the managers above them as well as their team. As managers, we need to aim to be more positive, instead of always honing in on the negatives.


I remember one of the other managers on the management team when I was managing. In every meeting, she would look at the negative points and start every sentence with ‘but’. Every time she opened her mouth I would think, “What’s she going to complain about now?” She irritated me so much that I avoided getting into a conversation with her. I didn’t realise why this influenced me until I read some science recently……….

The science

Scheier and Carver (1992) conducted a study on “effects of optimism on psychological and physical wellbeing: theoretical overview and empirical update”, in which they demonstrated research on the beneficial effects of being optimistic on psychological and physical wellbeing. Optimistic thinkers can cope better with stress. Optimists tend to be happier and spend more time focussing on what can change and improve many aspects of their life. They have better relationships and are a positive role model in society.

The workplace scenario

If this is the case in society, how does being positive and optimistic affect productivity and results in our workplace? Let’s look at the television show, The Office. Would you like a middle manager like David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais)? How does he affect his team’s well-being? Would you be motivated to work in this office? I know this is a comedy series to make us laugh; we need to realise, that it does happen in the real world too!

How about you?

As a manager, what are you going to do to promote positive mental health in your team? It could be your attitude. Are you optimistic? Do you look for solutions? Or are you someone who always has a “but” and is never happy?

5 Ways to be more optimistic as a manager:

1) Celebrate the strengths of your team. A Gallup report states that more than 80% of employees are motivated by recognition that’s honest, authentic and personalized.

2) Notice good things as they happen. If we notice and praise our team, they will feel happier and recognised.

3) Train your mind to believe you can make good things happen in your life. If we think positively, we will act positively and speak positively. Our thoughts are reflective of our talk and actions. This is proven by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Techniques which are evidence-based methods to change thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and improve overall life satisfaction and functioning.

4) Focus on the solution. Psychologists from the University of Sydney, Grant and O’Connor looked at the difference in outcomes when focusing on the problem compared to the solution. We are three times more likely to move forward and get an outcome when focused on the solution. We need to be optimistic to focus on the solution.

5) Remind yourself that setbacks are temporary. We all have our good days, and we all have our bad days. There is always good with bad. When setbacks happen, remember, we will move on and good will come.


What are you going to do to be optimistic today? What are you going to say if your mind starts turning to negative thoughts?


To find out more, watch YouTube Positivity is Contagious!