Optimism & Positive Thinking

“Optimism—It’s not just a mindset. It’s a behavior.” I saw this on a meme posted on social media. It got me thinking about several things. How do you observe optimism? How do you observe any behavior for that matter? Is it important to observe behavior?

I recently heard in a writing workshop—writing about emotions—that a significant amount of communication is transmitted through non-verbal means, such as expressions, body language or vocal tones.  So, I went on to research how you describe optimism in a character.  Here’s what I learned.

The character may display a wide grin, make joking observations, or turn away and burst out into laughter. Their speech may be bubbly, their eyes may glow, or their gestures may be animated. An optimistic character may lean in, make strong eye contact and smile a lot. 

Why is observing behavior and emotions important? Alan Alda talks about listening with eyes, ears, and feelings—or emotions—in his book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? This observation helps you relate to other people and better understand them.  

I got to test this out recently while talking with people about workplace issues.  Reading their non-verbal cues proved to be just as important as asking questions and listening to responses. Was there a disconnect between what the words they were saying and what their expressions and body language were telling me?  In one case, yes there was, which led me to explore some facts further.

On page 127 of The Manager’s Answer Book, we explain that nonverbal communication is an indicator of the effect you are having on others and whether your message is being heard and understood. More importantly it allows you to observe other people’s emotions and emotional state and to be comfortable. When you are comfortable with one another, you are able to relate to that person and track their ability to follow you. The result is that you are in sync with each other—you are communicating.

Friday, September 13, is Positive Thinking Day—a day to celebrate optimism. Show your optimism—smile, laugh, be bubbly and glow. Let those around you be comfortable so it’s easy to relate to each other. It’s a great way to build positive and respectful workplace relationships.

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