Happy at Work? We Can Fix That!

Bob Goldman on

Full disclosure: We're negative about people who think positive. And that goes double for people at work.

The manager is a maniac? The positive people don't notice. The company is going under? The positive people don't care. No matter what's wrong with the job, the positive people are optimistic. The maniac manager will come to his senses. The sinking company's prospects will be reversed.

Everything at work will work out fine. Just keep smiling.

These upbeat upstarts are not only delusional; they're dangerous. By refusing to see problems, they never make an effort to find solutions. Plus, they make reasonable and rational people like yourself look bad, and feel bad, too, which is exactly how the "glass is half full" crowd creates the workplace mindset called "toxic positivity."

"When people are unable to express any criticism or strong emotion," says psychologist Heather Myers, "they can enter a shame spiral where they feel bad about what they are feeling and guilty that they cannot seem to stop these feelings by thinking positively. And feeling bad about feeling bad can turn into a cycle of stress that makes it increasingly difficult to bounce back."

I learned about the shame spiral and all the other negatives that come from thinking positive in "What Toxic Positivity Looks Like at Work -- and How to Deal with It," a recent article on the job site by Sakshi Udavant.


I also learned techniques for dealing with toxic positivity at work. Will they work for you? I'm almost positive.

No. 1: "Speak up and be open about your struggles."

You shouldn't hide your light under a barrel. You shouldn't hide your darkness, either. No matter how much enthusiasm your "look on the bright side" co-workers express at the introduction of a new initiative, don't be afraid to express your inner grouch. "I'm afraid we're headed in the wrong direction here," is what to say when any new idea is introduced. "I think we all know that change never works and we're much better off not even trying."

If the new initiative works out, no one will remember your doubts. If it fails, everyone will think you're a genius.


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