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I am delighted to strongly recommend this book! I have been following Dr. Fredrickson's academic research and struggled to understand it enough to explain it. She instead took time from academic writing to create a book for a much broader audience. Her work has helped justify why Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and a focus on strengths can be so powerful. I began to apply some of her suggestions and saw immediate benefits.
The main idea is to create a positivity ratio: 3 positive emotions to each negative. If you can change to this ratio, you will change the way your mind works. That's the fascinating thing; you can change the way your mind works with practice. Also enlightening was her descriptions of what positive emotions are. For example interest is a positive emotion. Looking at what works with a sense of curiosity is a principle of AI. And think about it, isn't it fun to learn new things! Amusement is another, which certainly confirms my experience at the role of humor in healthy teams and relationships. I won't steal the impact of the book by telling you more but you can visit her website, www.positivityratio.com for more.
She also writes about her colleague, Dr. Marcial Losada's work on translating data into a mathematical model that predicts team performance. He spent years analyzing and coding team meeting behavior into three categories:
positive or negative statements,
whether the statements were focused on 'self' or 'others', and
whether the statements were defending one's point of view or asking questions of others.
What is so important about his findings is that the ratios were correlated with the performance of the teams. High performing teams had a 6 to 1 positivity ratio. So high performance is directly related to positive emotions, something we suspected but couldn't prove. It took years worth of work by these two people and their colleagues to give us something to truly rely on. That's the reason this book is so important, it will appeal to the self-help community as well as those who want to see hard data.
One quick finding that I want to highlight from Dr Losada's work is that "high performing teams asked questions as much as they defended their own views, and cast their attention outward as much as inward." (pg.124) Do your own research in the next meeting you attend. Count the number of times people ask questions, defend their own point of view and refer to 'others' (i.e. department, people, organizations, countries) vs. 'self.' What is your ratio?
It is very exciting work and the applications to you and your organization are almost unlimited. Dr Fredrickson also offers you a personal toolkit to apply the findings as well as a positivity self test. I cannot imagine a better time to have this work available for under $20! There are also several other websites that support the positivity movement. Many have online 'tests' you can take for free. Two websites in particular are: www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu, www.happier.com. You may not feel in control of the bad news and bad economy, but you can change from surviving to thriving by learning to shift your ratio.
Appreciative Inquiry Webinar
To continue with this theme, I am offering our webinar on Applying Appreciative Inquiry to Your Career on April 24th (12pm EDT) for only $20 a person. This webinar is designed to help you re-frame your career and design a compelling future.
This Month in StonesSpeak!
And from StonesSpeak we feature 2 stones this month that help support positivity. They are aventurine, which is a positive stone of prosperity and charoite, which is a transformational stone that also changes negative energy into healing energy. And remember, free shipping!