Life is an unending barrage of situations and circumstances that leave us feeling more positive or more negative. It begins when you wake in the morning, carries through your day at the clinic and continues until you nod off to sleep.Whether good or bad, the circumstances in your life directly impact how you are able to deal with life’s circumstances.To understand the impact this has on your effectiveness and the effectiveness of your clinic, let’s take a quick psychology lesson… negative emotions narrow the options for human behaviour (i.e. fight, flight or freeze) whereas positive emotions widen the array of possibilities available to you and the staff at your clinic. The Broaden and Build Theory (1) asserts that positive emotions were central to human survival and are considered a significant factor for humanity’s existence today. This is relevant to clinic owners, managers and physiotherapists because according to Broaden and Build, the effect of positive emotions is cumulative over time giving “positive people” greater wellbeing, better health and stronger social connections, as well help them be more resilient, more knowledgeable and more effective. Setting aside the fact that these align with health outcomes we want for our patients, isn’t it important that our workplace cultural environment mimics the outcomes we strive so hard to produce?To those who want a flourishing workplace culture, the implication is simple and straight forward - provide more positive experiences relative to negative ones. Ultimately this begins at the top and is the responsibility of the owner of the clinic. Each person in your clinic needs more positive and less negative. Whether you own the clinic or not, you still have a role and can make a difference. Every word you speak and every emotion you express induce either a positive or a negative experience. Therefore, be more aware of your leadership style and your presence. Speak and act in ways that are supportive, encouraging and appreciative rather than disapproving, sarcastic or cynical. This applies in every interaction you have with patients, staff, suppliers and collegial practitioners. The two most effective strategies to generate more positive experiences for others are - 1) smile and 2) use kind words. A positive culture doesn’t require rocket science… just simple common sense.While the jury is still out on the optimal ratio of positive to negative emotions, we know that when individuals and teams flourish, they have significantly higher measured ratios of positive to negative emotion. The research indicates there is level of negativity that serves as a healthy ingredient to maintain a solid grounding in reality. Without some negative, people tend to operate through rose-coloured glasses which ultimately diminishes performance, be it an individual physiotherapist or a entire clinic. When you find yourself in a position delivering a message that will produce negative emotions; be positive, objective and solution-oriented, focus on the improper behaviour or process and not on the person. Higher positivity ratios equate directly with human flourishing. Flourishing is associated with behaviours that are non-repetitive, innovative, highly flexible, and dynamically stable. Essentially, a flourishing clinic team is able to effectively operate amid the complex order of chaos and uncertainty, versus being constrained by the rigidity of narrow thinking. Imagine how a flourishing clinic deals with emergency patients, cancellations, being short staffed, financial challenges, office/IT hiccups and the myriad of challenges that interrupt your day.Further, the researchers have concluded human flourishing is characterized by:
GOODNESS - happiness, satisfaction, and superior functioning
GENERATIVITY - thought and behavioural flexibility
GROWTH - gains in enduring personal and social resources
RESILIENCE - survival and growth in the aftermath of adversity
To develop a flourishing culture, preliminary research suggests the ratio is in the range of 3-11 positive experience for every negative experience. However, the methodology used in the research has been questioned so scientists are back to the drawing board to better understand how we process experiences within the dynamics of complex organizational settings. Regardless, this boils down to a very simple job… ensure the people in your clinic experience more positive than negative.
Start with a goal of generating at least three positive experiences for every negative one. To ensure you’re successful, track your progress for just one week (we’ve got a simple tracking sheet available as a direct download. Use the button on this page... and no email required). Creating these positive experiences is simple… use your smile, show an interest in the other person and be mindful of your words. Set your clinic apart and make the commitment to take an extra 5 minutes each day to create some more positive by expressing your gratitude and appreciation to the staff, patients and to everyone who sets foot in your clinic.Reference: (1) Fredrickson, B.L., Losada, M.F., “Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing” American Psychologist, October 2005, 678-686