Does it seem like some people choose to be negative? In many ways it’s our basic nature, but it has damaging consequences to our creative and cognitive performance. Here’s a remedy for shifting a team’s emotions from negative to positive, but it requires understanding a bit about our conscious minds.
Understand Conscious Awareness
Our conscious minds are attracted to the emotional. Our cognitive and emotional systems constantly process a vast array of stimuli, yet most of that processing occurs below our conscious awareness. Our brains can hold only one conscious thought at a time, and that one thought arises when the system responsible for conscious awareness becomes privy to an activity occurring at the unconscious level. The conscious mind will award priority to an emotional stimulus. While our minds unconsciously process all stimuli, they grab emotional stimuli faster than others, bringing them into our conscious awareness.
So in a sense we are attached to the emotional. Unfortunately, we can easily feed this addiction in most work environments. Without trying too hard, we can almost always find something that evokes negative emotion, such as a threat that makes our financial future somewhat insecure or perhaps another employee who’s not entirely likeable. Even if these things aren’t such a big deal, our minds can latch onto them, inducing negative emotions that kill our ability to perform our best. So, as a team leader, it’s important to give a team something emotionally positive to latch onto.
Enliven the Positive
Most of us know what makes teams feel negative, but what arouses positive emotions in a work team? Interesting work and cordial team-mates are great to have, but they don’t usually fire up our emotions. Strategic plans and revenue charts, no matter how compelling or upward-trending, can’t cut it either. But a story about how our team efforts improve our lives and the lives of others can be just the ticket. Work activities and plans and charts are cold and hard and lifeless; people’s lives are messy and sticky and gooey and compelling.
A team’s work can touch lives positively through the content they provide, such as a pharmaceutical research team developing cures for those in need, or they can do it through the context of their work, such as a team culture that truly honors the achievement and growth of each individual. Either way, the more vividly you can describe the positive impact of your work on peoples’ lives, the more you will populate your team-mates’ conscious minds with emotionally positive thoughts that spark peak performance. Identify the most compelling way in which your team makes lives better, and define it in a way that elicits strong positive emotion.
Keep It Visible
Once you’ve defined the best way to create positive emotions in the team, use symbols to keep it fresh in their minds. Make them vivid and tangible, so people can picture them in their mind’s eye. Lines the walls with photos of how your team’s efforts change lives. Illustrate the good you do with compelling stories shared at team events.
Team leaders who wish to create positive emotions with the power to boot out the negative will find that emotionally uplifting stories and visuals help people replace their negative thoughts and emotions with the more positive ones they need to perform well at their jobs. This helps boost the creativity and cognitive ability needed to be successful in today’s business environments.
As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of emotions in teams, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.Share