All posts by Alexander

Hate your Job? TODAY is #InternationalQuitYourCrappyJobDay

Too many people hate their jobs but still stay in them for years.This is what we know. This is clearly a recipe for disaster for everyonewho feels stuck in an unhappy work situation.

We want to change that, so we’ve declared today, March 31, to be International Quit Your Crappy Job Day and havecreated a web site to match atwww.internationalquityourcrappyjobday.com.

On the site you can take a test to see if it might be time to quit and you can reada number ofarticles about quitting.

There are also a ton of stories from people who found the courage to quit bad jobs. This one is my favorite.

We want more people to quit, but more than that we want many more people to realize that theyhave that option.Because if you hate your job, but believe that you are not free to quit and get away, the situation gets much, much worse.

Happiness tip: Start your next meeting with something positive

Psychological experiments can be very devious, and this one was certainly no exception. The focus was meetings and the format was simple: Groups of people were asked to discuss and reach consensus on a contentious topic.

Here’s the devious bit: Unbeknownst to the other participants one member of the group was an actor hired by the researchers. The actor was told to speak first in the discussions. In half the experiments he would say something positive while in the other half he would start by saying something critical. After that he simply participated in the discussion like the other group members.

The experiment showed that when the first thing said in the meeting was positive, the discussion turned out more constructive, people listened more and were more likely to reach consensus. When the first statement was critical the mood became more hostile, people were more argumentative and consensus became less likely.

The researchers concluded that the way a meeting starts has a large impact on the tone of the discussion and on whether or not the group will eventually reach consensus.

Ah – meetings. The most energizing, creative and fun activity in the workplace. What’s that you say? They’re not? Well they can be. In fact they should be. Here’s a happinesstip that we’ve introduce with many of our clients that tends to work really well: Start your next meeting with something positive.

Many groups, projects or departments open their meetings with a round where each participant can say what he or she is working on, and quite often this ends up as a litany of complaints and problems. But as the experiment cited above shows, this is likely to affect the whole meeting.

So do this instead: Open meetings with a round where each person answers a question such as:

  • Name one thing you’ve accomplished since the last meeting that you’ve been proud of?
  • Name a person who has helped you since the last meeting.
  • Mention one thing you’re looking forward to in the coming week/month?
  • What’s the funniest thing someone has told you in the last week?
  • Mention something interesting you’ve learned since the last meeting

Pick a new question for each meeting and make some up yourself – as long as they focus on something positive.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this, just give each participant 20-30 seconds to share something positive. As the experiment mentioned above shows, a meeting becomes much more productive when you start with something positive instead of with a round of collective and individual moans.

One reader of this blog actually tried it and here’s what he told me afterwards:

Hi Alexander,

I have been reading your work for a few days now, and I cannot get enough.

We have 4 analysts on our team, who touch many if not all groups in our company, and the insight you provide in your articles is invaluable. Our role often means our view is black and white in order to deliver results, which is often received in a bad light.

So, I immediately utilized item 1 of your five weird tips for great meetings. It was like the Jedi mind trick for convincing others to lobby for our interests!

My Sr Analyst was struggling to keep her jaw from dropping. No more than a simple ask of what is the funniest thing your kids have said to you lately. Everyone had a story, and we all laughed for a quick 2 minutes before getting to the agenda.

Just wanted to say, Thank you,

All the best,
-Grant

Related posts

Positive feedback is much better than fault-based feedback

This is a fascinating experiment in how different types of feedback affect people’s persistence and success in a creativetask.

Unsurprisingly, positive feedback that doesn’t punish mistakes is much more effective. People who lost points forwrong attempts and were given negative messages gave up sooner and succeeded much less often.

I’m convinced that the exact same thing goes on in manyworkplaces. We need to change that andencourage much more positive feedback.

Here are some tips on how:

Happiness tip: Find and use your strengths at work

Do you know what youre really good at in your job? Where you shine? Do you have a good sense of your contributions to the workplace?

This week’s happiness tipis to takethe VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaireand findwhat your top 5 personalstrengths are out of a total of 24 potential personal strengths.

Heres how you do it:

  1. Go takethe VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. Youll be asked to register as a user first but it is free.
  2. Take the test. It has 240 questions so this can take a while :)
  3. Make a list of your top 5 strengths.
  4. For each of your top 5 signature strengths, try to write down some situations at work where you used those strengths.
  5. Take a look at your list. What strengths do you get to use often at work? These represent your main contribution to the workplace.
  6. What strengths do you rarely or never use at work? These represent untapped potential for you and your workplace. Is there any way you could get to use them more often?
  7. If you like, come back to this post and write your top 5 strengths in a comment so we can get to know each other a little better. I already wrote my top strengths in a comment :o)

This is a great exercise because it helps you discover your personal contribution to the workplace and also to find out of you have strengths that you are not currently using at work. Using your strengths daily is an important factor in becoming happy at work and in life. It will also make you more successful at work.

Finally, a strengths-based approach where you look at your personal strengths and how you can use them more at work is a lot more effective and a lot more fun than looking at your shortcomings and problems.