Discussion Thread

Positive Thinking and Productivity

  • 1.  Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 06-30-2020 11:34 AM
    A few months ago I was reading "She Engineers" by @Stephanie Slocum and was intrigued by the research she cited on the link between positive interactions and productivity. Since then, I've become more aware of my daily positive-to-negative interaction ratios and how they impact my work days.
    The 2004 study cited in the book found that there is an optimum ratio of 3 positives to 1 negative when it comes to productivity.

    With everything going on in the world right now and less in-person interactions, we may have to be more intentional in getting those positive interactions to outweigh the seemingly constant sources of negative news in 2020.

    Are there ways you try to tip the ratio to be more positive than negative?​

    Below are some things that come to mind for me
    -being intentional about talking to people at work outside my project team (admins, accountants, marketing team)
    -sharing things with coworkers that I enjoy (like my latest watercolor paintings)
    -sending emails to clients when progress is made as planned, not just sending updates when something isn't going as planned
    -taking several 5 to 10 minute breaks a day to chat with the other engineers in my group about non-project related topics

    I'm also trying to be more intentional about being that positive interaction for those around me as well.

    I'd love to hear things that help you add to the positives or reduce the negatives. If you have any tips on how you try to be a positive interaction for someone else, that would be great to hear too

    ------------------------------
    Heidi Wallace EI,P.E.,M.ASCE
    P.E.
    Tulsa OK
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-01-2020 10:32 AM
    Heidi,

    This is a great topic.  I had not read that article but have been trying myself to outweigh the negatives with the positives in my professional life lately.  Some of the things you mentioned are some of the steps I've been taking, like trying to take time to talk with folks at work that I would not normally interact with on a day to day basis.  Taking time to ask my co-worker how everything is going with them and learn how their family is doing, or what fun thing they have planned for the weekend, taking time for the little things that let us get to know each other and escape the anxiety of the pandemic and the economy.
    In addition, I've been working on a couple of other things that I would recommend as well.  I've been project managing over the past few months with my company and during this scary time when my crew is away from family and away from home on a remote job site, I've been making sure to interact everyday to get updates.  No matter what the news of how the days events are going, I try to find some positive out of it and thank them for the hard work on that portion so that they know they are not alone and their work is being appreciated.  I know that if the roles were reversed I'd very much like that if I was doing what they are doing.  In addition, I am working on saying thank you to folks more for what they do.  It may be their job title and it may be what they are supposed to be doing in that job title, but everyone likes to be told thank you once and awhile for their efforts.  As you were saying, I've noticed in my own day to day interactions that positivity can help productivity as it pushes you to do more because you realize your efforts matter.  As my grandpa always said, you get more flies with sugar then you do vinegar, I feel that's very true for productivity as well.

    ------------------------------
    Michelle Hudson EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Design Engineer
    Altoona IA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-02-2020 02:01 PM
    If I may suggest:
    "Are there ways you try to tip the ratio to be more positive than negative?​"

    First, consider losing the words "Positive and Negative" when in dialogue...verbal and written.
    Such expressions simply prematurely label opinions as "Right and Wrong" prior to dialogue.

    Start forming the habit when another person presents you with their opinion or belief by making
    your first response to them as:
    "That's an interesting point.
    Can you tell me a bit more?"

    Stay Healthy!
    Cheers,
    Bill


    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-02-2020 02:15 PM
    Maybe I should have clarified by what I mean by "positive" and "negative"

    Hopefully the explanation below sheds a little light on what I meant.

    Say you are in the 90% CD phase of a project, and you get a call from the architect. They tell you that the sale of the land fell through and now you need to redesign the whole project on a new location. No one was was "wrong," but that conversation can be deflating.

    Positive interactions can also be something as simple as someone smiling at you and calling you by name when you walk down the hallway.

    A positive interaction could also be a disagreement you have with someone if that disagreement is carried out in a respectful way.

    Every interaction we have either lifts us up, leaves us where we were, or drags us down. Having more of those uplifting or neutral interactions can make you more productive.

    Within the context of the workplace, we can be aware of how we present information or treat others for the betterment of the whole group. If we know we have a meeting later in the day where we have to break bad news to a client, we can try to be extra intentional about having positive interactions (lunch with a friend, finishing that dangling to-do list item, chatting with a coworker about their recent engagement, etc) so the whole day isn't tanked in anxious anticipation of the meeting.

    ------------------------------
    Heidi Wallace EI,P.E.,M.ASCE
    P.E.
    Tulsa OK
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-04-2020 11:06 AM


    "No, that's not what I meant."

    "Maybe I should have clarified by what I mean by "positive" and "negative."

    "Hopefully the explanation below sheds a little light on what I meant."

    Heidi, all of us face the exact same communication challenge on a daily basis, at work, at home, and in any and all situations where we struggle to understand what others mean by what they say, do, write, etc., on the first pass. For example, professors, project managers, governmental representatives, etc., struggle with assuring that the message they believe they sent was interpreted EXACTLY as they meant it, the first time, every time.

    In my professional and personal life this interpretive challenge has been a bit easier since I learned about the "Ladder of Abstraction"[1] back in Houston, Texas, ~1982~

    My employer's executives wanted all of their staff to become competent communicators.

    I look forward to the feedback from your "Discussions" followers.

    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,

    Bill

    <>===================<>==================<>

    • What is abstraction in communication?

     

    Abstractions are ideas that are not described in specifics. They cannot be physically sensed (seen, heard, felt, touched, or smelled). Abstraction lacks representational qualities. Abstract descriptions are in contrast to concrete descriptions.

     

    • What is the ladder of inference?

    The Ladder of Inference describes the thinking process that we go through, usually without realizing it, to get from a fact to a decision or action. The thinking stages can be seen as rungs on a ladder and are shown in figure 1, 

    ·      Figure 1: The Ladder of Inference

     


    From Argyris, C., 'Overcoming Organizational Defenses: Facilitating Organizational Learning,' 1st Edition, © 1990. Printed electronically and reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. and Sons, Inc.

    [1] "Language in Thought and Action," – See attachment.



    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)



  • 6.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-02-2020 09:43 PM
      |   view attached
    Re: "She Engineers"
    Please bring this opportunity (attached) to the attention of all.

    NOTE IT IS A "ZOOM MEETING" THIS 08JUL2020.

    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-06-2020 09:30 AM
    Michelle,
    I love that you are intentional about saying "thank you." That is something one of my project managers does for us, and it does make a difference. Sometimes that "thank you" for even the smallest thing makes it easier to stay motivated on a tough project.
    When I was going back to school after one of my internships, I remember specifically thanking him in a note for his words of appreciation and encouragement. I try to remember how much it meant to me now that I'm managing some projects.

    ------------------------------
    Heidi Wallace EI,P.E.,M.ASCE
    P.E.
    Tulsa OK
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Positive Thinking and Productivity

    Posted 07-09-2020 01:45 PM

    For many of us, our mom told us to always say "Please" and "Thank You!"

    To elevate this dialogue's value to your career, consider the question "Why do our best people leave our firm?"

    For most such examples, we learn that it is because of at least one of the three reasons that follow are perceived as "Missing."

    1. Lack of Recognition.
    2. Lack of Challenge, and,
    3. Lack of Opportunity!

    And while some top managers will argue, for example, "We have some of the best opportunities in this business," if those opportunities are not known to that employee, they go find it elsewhere.

    A few years ago, a  number  of employees were at lunch at work. Interrupting their conversation, a VP said loud enough to be heard across the group "Hi Gloria, just wanted to say your help yesterday on that proposal got it done and accepted, on time for us. Thanks!"

    Such spontaneous, valid recognition in front of colleagues meant the world to Gloria.

     

    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,

    Bill



    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------