You’ve likely heard or said one of the following statements in your life: “Stay positive”, “Look on the bright side”, “Good vibes only”, “Oh, it can’t be that bad”. Have you ever heard any of these comments being said at your workplace? If so, is it toxic positivity or genuine optimism? In this article, we will explain how you can spot the key differences between the two terminologies and how to build genuine optimism within your company or organisation.
What is the difference between toxic positivity and optimism?
Toxic positivity is a stubborn belief that people should always stay positive. No matter how dire or tragic the circumstances can be, employees who work in an environment that promotes toxic positivity are encouraged to bury their negative emotions, and express positive emotions that they may not actually be feeling.
A workplace that refuses to acknowledge employees’ negative feelings also tends to spin the bad situations in a positive way with phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “it could have been worse.”
Genuine optimism enables team members to progress and reach success. The main difference between toxic positivity and optimism is that, unlike toxic positivity, sincere optimism is rooted in reality and lets us acknowledge and express both negative and positive emotions. It encourages honesty and openness while allowing employees to express their ideas, opinions and needs.
Are there any repercussions of toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity can have serious negative repercussions when it comes to employee well-being, and the overall workplace. These include:
- It causes team members to suppress their emotions, needs and concerns.
- It creates an avoidant work culture and causes a loss of trust between the employees and the leaders who minimise and invalidate their emotions.
- It lowers employees’ self-esteem and performance, contributing to anxiety and burnout.
Having a positive attitude at work can be very helpful and important in the right context, but how can we prevent positivity from becoming excessive and toxic?
How to build sincere optimism in your company
As a leader, there are some tactics that can be implemented to encourage sincere optimism in your company, including:
- Practise gratitude by acknowledging the efforts of your team members. It helps increase positive feelings, satisfaction and motivation of your employees.
- Set clear goals. Goal-setting is a powerful and motivating tool that will help your team to maintain a realistic vision of how work will be achieved.
- Make room for new ideas and constructive criticism. This approach does not only increase insights and perspectives, but it’s also a valuable tool to build trust between you and your team members.
Interested in learning more about how to promote employee well-being and create an environment that enables your team members to thrive? Book a demo today or click here to learn more about our well-being solutions.