Lisa Jacobson

Member, IPPA

This conversation is closed.

Make it commonplace to begin all business meetings with each member briefly reporting three good things and how they came to be.

Research indicates that outlook can be elevated and sustained when individuals make a daily habit of noticing at least three things that went well and understanding how those good things came to be. Further research indicates that positive emotions such as joy and satisfaction broaden and build our thoughts, ideas and deeds.

We spend most of our lives in the workplace, why not begin to adopt best practices that cultivate cognitive and physical health and emotional well being?

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    Feb 24 2012: Actually I would rather see all meetings end this way. Get the garbage out of the way and end on a positive note. Sets the tone for the rest of the day
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      Feb 24 2012: Linda - You are on to something. Perhaps, we should begin meetings with one good thing from each person - get to the business of the day and end with an additional 2 good things. Studies show that it is critical to end meetings well. People remember how events end more than anything else.
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        Feb 24 2012: Hi Lisa,
        Sounds like a great idea to me. The practice of ‘sandwiching’ any kind of bad, sad, boring etc news with something positive has proven to work. So often the workplace is polluted by acts of ‘catching people doing something wrong’. It would be fabulous to have the reverse ingrained: Catching people doing something good. (There is a TED Talk on this subject…but forgot which one. Do you know?)
        Do you also know of businesses or organizations that practice this already?
        Regards,
        Astra
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          Feb 25 2012: Astra
          I like the idea of sandwiching for meetings that you know are going to be bad (downsizing, layoffs). But to do it every meeting might be a little overkill.

          I learned the hard way there are many many people out there who are great at their jobs but they function in a concrete operational way. They just want clear orders and they will give you great results. A lot of extraneous warm fuzzy stuff just clouds their vision and they struggle to deal with too much information.

          When you couch information with them it sometimes backfires because they do not know if it is more important to feel good or get the job done.

          The actual key leadership skill needed here is to know your team members and balance approaches. You should never begin and end meetings with a warm fuzzy just because it makes you feel good. Make sure it is the correct approach with those you are leading.
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    Feb 26 2012: Great idea, Add some monetary benefit to the daily habit proposal and WOHA LA , you have got an ideal workplace!
    As in economics they say" there is no such thing as free lunch!"
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    Feb 25 2012: What research? Do you have a link?

    What further research? Do you have a link?

    Also, are you discussing workplace morale or business? When you say business, I do not think of people clucking away in cubicles; that is not business that is work. Business is when people meet and make investment decisions or arrange for an exchange of goods and/or services for commodities or monies. Generally, the good things we discuss are our commissions, dividends, shares, or net growth.

    If you mean this as a way to boost workplace morale, I think you might like a book called: The One Minute Manager.
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      Feb 25 2012: Here is the research study I am referring to.

      Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions.
      Seligman, Martin E. P.;Steen, Tracy A.;Park, Nansook;Peterson, Christopher
      American Psychologist, Vol 60(5), Jul-Aug 2005, 410-421. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410
  • Feb 24 2012: I am a R&D PM and most of my days are spent going from meeting to meeting driving the project forward. If I ask everyone to state 3 positives at the beginning of the meeting I would get a response from a few. I would also get dirty looks from a few and I would be ignored by the remainder. Some would even resent me for the question. I feel it is my job to make the meeting a positive experience. The negatives are reported in a positive light. The widget is broken but we are doing a, b, c to fix it and we learned d by it breaking. I can only control my thoughts and I can project positivity. The negative, unmoviatived, and just plain tired people are always going to be in the meetings and they have a right to be there and have thier feelings. I agree with the intent but the method seems a little unmanageable. Life is good.
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      Feb 25 2012: A mature attitude, but I disagree on one point. They may have a right to their feelings, but they do not--necessarily--have a right to be there.

      Leadership is a lame and thankless job. But, without it, we would probably all sit around scratching our backsides.
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      Feb 25 2012: Raymond - Before consulting, I was in HR at a high tech company. Your response is valid. I get it. However, I suggest a certain "introduction strategy" for this new way to begin and end meetings. 1. Tell your teams that there is research supporting what you are suggesting. 2. Ask if anyone is curious about the findings and ask them to stay a little later to learn more about it. 3. Try to get them interested and curious about trying. You could start out by asking if anyone is interested in making meetings more effective and positive. 4. Start 3 good things with just one of your teams and when you start to get results, tell the other teams about what you are observing in the pilot team. If you need some assistance facilitating the pilot team, I will gladly Skype with you and help you implement it. I am passionate about applying the research findings in the business world.
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      Feb 25 2012: Raymond - Before consulting, I was in HR at a high tech company. Your response is valid. I get it. However, I suggest a certain "introduction strategy" for this new way to begin and end meetings. 1. Tell your teams that there is research supporting what you are suggesting. 2. Ask if anyone is curious about the findings and ask them to stay a little later to learn more about it. 3. Try to get them interested and curious about trying. You could start out by asking if anyone is interested in making meetings more effective and positive. 4. Start 3 good things with just one of your teams and when you start to get results, tell the other teams about what you are observing in the pilot team. If you need some assistance facilitating the pilot team, I will gladly Skype with you and help you implement it. I am passionate about applying the research findings in the business world.
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    Feb 24 2012: The comments below remind me of another useful business application of positive psychology research findings. It's truly a seminal study by Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada. Bottom line: The optimum ratio of positive to negative comments/feedback in team business meetings is 6:1. Teams that demonstrated this ratio performed best and were characterized as flourishing. Note: that single negative comment is critical! Even more, as applied to individuals, Fredrickson and Losada defined the optimal level of positive to negative affect was 3:1. This study was published in American Psychologist, October 2005 but such findings haven't made it to the general public. My mission is to apply these research findings in the business world.
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    Feb 24 2012: This is a FABULOUS Idea, well worth spreading! What we focus on expands. Where the attention goes...the energy flows. This is a good practice in every aspect of the life adventure. When we spend our energy noticing what went well, with gratitude, we are building a strong foundation to continue to grow. Positive emotions, joy, and satisfaction are the building materials we use to boost our own and others sense of accomplishment, and that is the way we produce more of the same.

    Great idea Lisa to start an interaction this way....great idea to end an interaction this way Linda...
    How about we live our lives this way in every moment??? It really is so much more enjoyable:>)
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      Feb 24 2012: The original study was in 2000. It has been replicated many times, the results indicated that this simple habit actually changed levels of optimism in a scientifically significantly way. But not in the way researchers expected. The original study was only 7 days. Six months later, researchers re-interviewed participants and re-assessd their levels of optimism. Surprisingly, optimism levels raised to a significant level. How could one week of "three good things" significantly build optimism 6 months later? Participants reported that they enjoyed the exercise and so they continued to practice the three good things exercise.
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        Feb 24 2012: This makes sense Lisa:>)
        When people notice that a practice is enjoyable and is improving the life experience for them, they may carry the practice over into other aspects of their lives. I truly believe that focusing on the positive, with gratitude, helps build our mental and physical resourses. It's been proven, of course that laughter is good medicine...smiling changes the chemical make-up in the body, etc. etc. These are really such easy practices, which drastically change the life experience:>)
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          Feb 24 2012: If we are focusing on the progress we make as individuals AND as a group, team, etc., perhaps we stop focusing on learning styles and cultural differences? EVERYONE, in my experience, likes to be recognized for what s/he contributes, so when/if we are focusing on the positive, progress, accomplishments of the individuals AND the whole, I believe we stop focusing on those factors that may not be relevant.
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          Feb 24 2012: Roy,
          This is in response to your post which begins...
          "What I'm reading into your words are: If we focus on the team's progress, we don't have to worry about the members because everybody wants to have positive success. I immediately think of baseball. So if we concentrate on winning the game, we don't have to worry about who's pitching and who's hitting because everybody wants to feel like they contributed to a winning team".

          If we think of baseball, as you sightfully have done, we know that each and every player is as important as the other...correct? We often see baseball players encouraging each other and cheering each other on...correct? So, as I write above, I believe we reach a more successful outcome in any adventure, when ALL participants, BOTH as individuals, AND part of the team are encouraged and supported....just wanted to clarify that piece:>) I don't agree that it is "the group vs the individuals as the motivating force". I believe that BOTH individuals AND the group dynamic are important to recognize:>)