It is an interesting situation around showing people you have concern and care for them.
How and when do you typically show caring towards fellow employees?
I think there is a human tendency to want to provide for people and protect them whenever they’re going through a hard time.
But what about the good things that happen to employees? Do you say anything?
Bad Things Happen To Everyone
The types of bad things that can happen to any of us include: sickness, accidents, and death in the family or of a close friend, along with divorce, death of a pet, or other losses in life.
We gravitate and orient more strongly towards negative experiences because of the painful emotions they conjure up. There’s a visceral connection between one employee’s bad life circumstances and our own desire to avoid such experiences in our own lives.
Or we may have lived through a similar experience and so we vicariously go through what the employee is living.
Negative news is said to travel ten times faster than good news.
However, we cannot neglect the wonderful and positive life events employees have.
Good Things Happen All The Time Too
Drs. Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron found that positive workplace engagement is associated with employees “feeling valued, secure, supported and respected.”
We need to make sure we acknowledge and do something or at least express the right kind of communication around positive life events.
Good things might consist of a job promotion, a birth or adoption, engagement, marriage, new pet, new home or any personal achievement.
Remember that the use of positive language and vocabulary impacts people and their performance at work.
The problem is we have a negative world out there. We can easily forget to say anything worthwhile about the good things happening in people’s lives.
Consider this research by Dr. Robert Schrauf, associate professor of applied linguistics at Penn State University, where he found that half of all the words used by people to express emotion are negative in perception.
From the remaining vocabulary used only 30 percent is positive and 20 percent is considered neutral.
Demonstrating Empathy Towards the Good Things
Empathy is where you psychologically and emotionally identify with the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another individual.
In the workplace it is important to relate to people on their positive life experiences that often get ignored. By commenting on them and commending people on their achievements you are adding a positive notch on the bank account of employee engagement.
Follow these five steps for boosting your ability to acknowledge the good things that happen in employees’ lives:
1. Focus on the relationship not just the person. While you acknowledge the positive event in the individual’s life think about why you are doing this. It should be because you want to maintain or build up the positive relationship strength you already have with them.
2. Look for positives about the individual. It is not only about congratulating the person on their recent achievement or the happy life event. This is a chance for you to express positivity about their personal attributes and characteristics that you appreciate in them.
3. Create a repertoire of positive vocabulary. Finding the right words to use that are positive in nature can sometimes be harder than you think. Delve into an online thesaurus and compile your personal list of great words you can use whenever you need them.
4. Practice using your positive vocabulary. To write well you must be well read. Similarly, to master the art of using more positive vocabulary you will have to use it frequently. Try them out in your written expressions of acknowledgment as well as the spoken exchanges with employees.
5. Get excited about giving recognition. Be a good finder for great and wonderful things happening in people’s lives. With their expressed consent enthusiastically share their news. Face-to-face, smile the positive feelings you have for them.
Make extra effort to find out about the great life events in employees’ lives and communicate your congratulations and positive acknowledgment to them.
Question: Have you noted how often positive life events versus negative ones are acknowledged in employees’ lives?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.