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November 2013

Be A Positive Force At Work

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Everyone’s job is important in some way, to someone. Whether you run your own business, tend a garden, work a machine, assemble parts or answer the phone, your work impacts other people’s work. And that makes it important.

If you employ or manage people, you are charged with an awesome responsibility: leadership. Never take that privilege for granted. Make being a positive force at work your new year’s resolution for 2014.

A good way to start is to remember that each person you work with is a continually developing individual shaped by his or her unique personality, experiences and family circumstances. The way you behave towards them not only makes a difference in their lives, it influences how they treat others in your workplace. Your presence and way of “being” may calm or disturb, create or destroy. You may bring serenity and harmony to the busyness of the day, or you may stir up negativity and resentment. You may be the empathetic friendly face, the supportive leader who is genuinely there in the moment, present and willing to do what it takes. Or, you may be the one who takes misplaced credit or who is always there to offer a backhanded, hurtful comment in the guise of advice or ‘just saying’. It’s up to you.

Consider also the positive forces that could combine to make your workplace better, more than just a place where you have to go to earn money. With your personal contribution, the workday can afford you an opportunity to witness tremendous achievements and moments of ‘personal best’. You have a choice, your role, whether supportive or not, caring or destructive, is up to you.

You may wonder how you can make a difference in an established workplace, with people who have been there forever or who have dominating personalities that leave little room for a different approach. It’s daunting alright, but consider this: what kind of workplace would you be building if you walk away from an unkind comment or refuse to be engaged in a verbal tug of war? Your change of behaviour, your decision to behave with dignity at all times, regardless of circumstances, can be a tremendous catalyst for change.

One of the most powerful ways you can influence the workplace is through what you say, and how you say it. Have you ever blurted out unkind or hurtful words that you immediately wished you could take back? Words hurt, especially when delivered in the absence of compassion, and they have the power to create conflict or calm. So, watch your words.

Beyond what you can do personally, talk to your managers to discuss what can be done from their perspective to create a positive workplace. Think of ways to connect with your team through reading groups or hobbies such as baking, quilting or fitness activities. Everything you have in common will bring you closer to workplace harmony as the topic of conversation moves from gossip to constructive conversation.

You can make positive differences in other ways as well. Look for opportunities to re-balance; schedules, duties, and working hours are often common annoyances. With minor adjustments these dis-satisfiers may become satisfiers. Consider establishing a positive workplace team that is charged with responsibility to encourage harmony through social activities and community contribution. Many not–for-profit organizations, seniors centres and charities welcome volunteers.

Standing tall in the face of overbearing personalities, unkind words and behaviour is empowering for managers and employees alike. Each of us can make a difference by being the voice of reason and demonstrating the unflappable strength of one person deciding to be a positive force at work.