What Kind of Reflection Do You Create In Others?

This time of year, I seem to get a bit more reflective and sentimental and veer off of the path of print management and promotional items. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. (In fact, it might do us good to think that way all year round.) Anyway, it’s especially during the holiday season that videos like this one, really make me think.

I shared it on social media last week; check it out now below if you haven’t yet seen it.

The story it highlights is uplifting and a reminder of the natural goodness of people. But something David Flood says near the end of the piece really resonates with me.

           “Your life isn’t about you. It’s about all the people around you. All the people you can touch. All the people you can influence.”

(Quality of) Life in the Workplace

Naturally, I talk (and think) about businesses a lot. (I can’ t help it. As I say so often, we’ve been helping businesses for nearly 100 years, so it’s in my DNA.) So I immediately thought about what this means for the workplace.

Too often, we still function in those “silos” we love to mock. We don’t think of the people around us as people, as much as we regard them as their job function or our most recent interaction with them. We see Dave, for instance, as “the guy that didn’t get me that report as soon as I wanted it.” With a more positive attitude, we might instead see Dave as “the guy with three small kids while caring for an aging parent”. Or maybe “the guy whose great idea helped us save that big account last year.” It is with utmost respect that I take in the stories that are told to me of the lives that make up our Superior family. Some stories are heart-warming. Some stories are heart-breaking.

But when we all choose to see positives, in the process we boost morale and increase collaboration. When we isolate and criticize, we chill the atmosphere. Whichever we choose, it will likely spread throughout the workplace and throughout the workday. And far beyond.

Ripples and Relationships

I found a wonderful article on this subject on a “health and wellness” website by the University of Wisconsin. It features the perspectives of a UW Health Psychologist. She discusses research that has shown that the happiness of an individual reaches other people with “up to three degrees of separation.” Now, I don’t know if Kevin Bacon is happy or not, but I find these findings very telling:

  • Our level of happiness impacts friends of our friends’ friends. (Or friends of our coworkers’ friends.)
  • If you have a friend, relative or neighbor who lives within a mile and becomes happy, the probability that you will be happy goes up by 25 percent. (Chances are you encounter plenty of co-workers in much closer proximity.)
  • Negative emotions are especially “viral” in that they have four to seven times more impact than positive ones.

Who Will Your Life Be About?

When you look at things through the lens of this research, displaying negativity at the office is a selfish thing to do. You may well be impacting happiness of people you don’t even know. Conversely, look at how far your positive efforts can spread. The people you can touch. The people you can influence.

If it impacts people “three degrees” away, think of how much more it affects your immediate co-workers and family. It’s kind of a big responsibility, isn’t it?  Everybody has an occasional “bad mood” day. But you have the power to keep it in check so it doesn’t gain momentum and create a negative vibe.

A Great Goal, Indeed

Do you have any examples of how a positive or negative situation created ripples in your organization, and what happened as a result?  I’d love to hear about them.

Meanwhile, think of David Flood’s son in the video. Would you want to be one of the kids that let him eat lunch alone every day?  Or instead, would you rather be one of the kids skating “a little too slow” to block his shot on goal?

I know which one I’d pick. And I hope to remember that in my daily interactions. Not just during the holidays, but all year long.

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