Positive Psychology: Why Positivity Breeds Success

The last few months have brought about change for everyone. Part of the change for me has been less time spent in the car driving to work and more time at home. As well as enjoying some good books (and a few extra TV shows) I wanted to use some of this additional time beneficially, so went about finding some online courses to complete. I’ve always had an interest in psychology, particularly the area of Positive Psychology, due to my background in complementary therapy and have a long-held belief that positive thought can be very powerful in our day to day lives. I found a range of excellent courses on the Coursera website (www.coursera.org) and picked out one run by Dr Barbara Fredrickson1. Dr Fredrickson is absolutely fascinating – she has done a huge amount of research within the field of Positive Psychology and has written a number of books.

The course is split into six modules with a different topic each week. In week two, the focus was on “mindscapes and outcomes of positivity” and one of the course articles really resonated with me, not only from a personal point of view, but also in relation to business change. The article in question2 focused on the time she worked with a business consultant who had researched how one person’s positive or negative behaviour influenced that of another within their team.

The consultant had carried out his research by studying sixty different business teams as they did annual strategic planning. He analysed the number of positive, negative and neutral statements made during their meetings and also how successful they became in achieving their outcome. The results indicated that the teams who were more positive, using a greater number of positive statements, were more likely to be successful.

What I found particularly interesting was that if the number of negative statements made by the team is greater than the number of positive statements, the ideas generated within the team will dry up, but if there are more positive statements than negative then creativity flourishes. Dr Fredrickson has gone on to work further on this idea and its importance3, and has developed a website where anyone can test their positivity ratio at a point in time – www.positivityratio.com – something I have started to do on a regular basis. For me, this whole idea fits brilliantly with my view of business change. I’ve always felt that positivity breeds positivity. To see that there is concrete research showing that positivity also breeds creativity and success really validates my thinking. I find it very encouraging that positive thoughts and interactions lead to more successful teams and it’s something I’m going to share and use in my future interactions.

The value of positive psychology fits naturally with the ethos of Kwatee too. We’ve always had the view that people sit at the centre of change and transformation, and supporting people positively through any change journey is key. Now I have the evidence to back that up! I wonder what my positivity ratio is now…? To find out more about how our experts could help you effect positive business change, drop us a line.

1: Positive Psychology, Dr Barbara Fredrickson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (www.coursera.org/learn/positive-psychology)
2: angelawinter.com/the-science-of-happiness/ (The article originally features in the May 2009 issue of The Sun)
3: Fredrickson, B.L. (2009). Positivity (New York, Three Rivers Press)

Liz Brown