The negativity spread in 2020 created too many destructive conversations that focused on what's wrong and where we disagree. These interactions polarized good people, produced unhealthy stress, damaged relationships, and diminished trust. The negative conversations we watched, listened to, and read about on social media also decreased our collective productivity, engagement, and wellbeing during a time when we needed everyone to be at their best.

When we accentuate the positive in our conversations, we encourage the people around us to unite around common goals and focus their energy on possibilities, not problems. We also inspire others to stay positive and resilient when dealing with difficult days. Optimism is an Empowering Virtue That Gets Created One Positive Conversation at a Time. When we consciously choose to highlight the positive, the impact radiates to all our relationships. The results and rewards are energizing. As Shawn Achor describes in his book, The Happiness Advantage, "...doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19 percent faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive." What is a Positive Conversation? Anytime we help someone experience one or more of these 10 positive emotions...Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe and Love...we're having a positive conversation and making a major contribution to the health and wellbeing of that person. Even if the interaction only lasts a few seconds, these meaningful moments accumulate and compound over time to optimize their bodies and brains to build the resilience required to bounce back stronger when life knocks them down. Being in a positive conversation also helps individuals and teams reduce their anxiety, find common ground, and take positive action in the face of fear or uncertainty. Negative conversations involve people complaining, criticizing, and making cynical comments. After these interactions, both parties usually feel worse because negativity drains our energy and creates a narrative that our problems have no solutions or ones that are out of our control. Research also shows that pessimistic people give up faster and come up with less creative solutions to challenging problems than their optimistic counterparts.

Even when a negative comment is about something minor, our words act like a virus that infects and influences others to complain about some aspect of their life. A Steady Diet of Negativity Trains People to Feel Helpless and Hopeless. If someone followed us around for a week and recorded all our comments, what do you think they would discover? According to some positive psychologists, the tapes would reveal the statements and stories of a lot of individuals are focused on what's not working in their world. This doesn't mean they're negative people. It just means they've developed the habit of talking about problems more than solutions, being critical of someone or something, and focusing on issues outside their control. Research Suggests People Complain About 15-30 Times a Day. On the other hand, if the reporter following us around discovered the content of what we said focused more on the positive aspects of our life...our relationships, results and health would be much better. The uplifting stories we told would also inspire others to promote what's working well in their world. Every day you are reminded that handwashing, face coverings, and social distancing are essential to your health and wellbeing. This month, I encourage you to add positive conversations to your daily routine.

There is a Better Way to Work and Live. We will win this war against COVID-19, but the stress, fear and uncertainty associated with battling this pandemic for another year is hard for even the most resilient people to handle. Creating a positive conversation culture will improve the mental health of the people around you and bring out the best in everyone.

Let's Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin www.onepositiveplace.com billdurkin@onepositiveplace.com 630.215.5144

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