Accentuate the Positive

How questions are asked directly impacts behavior be it positive or negative.  Knowing this in the workplace environment can have a profound impact. In fact, the responses totally reflect the way people react in all situations – not just at the office – but how it’s played out in a work environment – can contribute to why some businesses make it while others fail.


Ask employees what they hate about their job and you can watch their entire demeanor and attitude change before your eyes. They tense up. They may get defensive. They may display a whole range of emotions as they relive the experiences that led to their dislike. This seemingly simple question triggers the brain to register negative emotion; and when that happens, focus narrows to negative thought patterns and ‘survival mode’ takes over.  It’s like being in a lion’s den. Once you’re in there, the only thing you can focus on is getting out.  Nothing else has impact. The emotions (fear of being eaten by a lion in this case), prevents the brain from seeing anything else around them.  Questions that triggers emotion-ridden responses, can oftentimes linger throughout the day, or even longer; and can reflect not only on the employee’s own productivity and attitude, but on those around them as well.


But, ask employees what they like best about their jobs and it’s an entirely different story.  They light up. It triggers positive energy to the brain.  They focus on the good – and they feel more upbeat about you, their jobs and their abilities. When they feel good about themselves, productivity and energy increases, and combined with enthusiasm, extends to everyone who comes in contact with them.


What happens when you focus on the positive is threefold:

  • It’s been proven that positive feelings enhance not only people’s abilities, but actually motivate them to grow.
  • When you demonstrate that you’re actually curious about what makes your employees happy, it becomes easier for them to talk to you, feel more comfortable with you and speak more highly about you
  • People feel good when they talk about themselves.  By asking ‘What makes you happy here,’ it’s an open invitation to them to share their thoughts and feelings and lets them know that you care.


As owners and managers and to a great extent,  the success of our employees is pretty much in our hands.  The turn of a phrase can make all the difference in the world. Creating a positive work place will create more positive results.



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