In the classic Disney film "Mary Poppins," Mary and Bert and the Banks children visit Uncle Albert. In the scene, Uncle Albert and then Bert and the others sing, "I love to laugh! Loud and long and clear … The more I laugh, the more I'm filled with glee! And the more the glee, the more I'm a merrier me!"
While that scene may be a bit of an exaggerated description of the Positivity theme, it certainly strikes the right chord: Positivity sees the bright side, celebrates the win, rallies the troops. Individuals with Positivity in their Top 5 are quick to smile, laugh, give praise. It isn't that people strong in the Positivity theme are unrealistic about the negativity and problems that exist in their lives and in the world. It's that they see attitude as a choice, and they choose to have a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
Individuals with Positivity in their Top 5 choose to be happy, choose to see the upside, choose to find the silver lining. They have an infectious enthusiasm that makes them attractive to others, and their positive outlook forms the foundation of all their relationships.
Positivity: Helps and Hinders
When you coach those with Positivity in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps" and the "hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Positivity include:
- Your natural enthusiasm inspires others to see the possibilities rather than the problems. This creates a solutions-focused team that is not easily discouraged.
- When those around you start feeling overwhelmed and weighed down, you bring a "possibility" point of view that helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- In a less-than-perfect world, your positive frame of mind allows you to focus on what is right instead of dwelling on what is wrong, which gives you courage and confidence to face adversity.
- Your tendency to focus on what is right is not limited to situations, but extends to people as well. Because you see what is right about them, others gain self-confidence from your belief in them.
- You may be seen as having a "Pollyanna" attitude, that is, an unrealistic optimism that is not grounded in reality. Help others know that you do indeed understand the negative aspects of a situation, but choose instead to focus on the positive.
- If you lead a team, be careful that you don't give your associates the impression that you don't want to hear any bad news. This will lead to their being less than forthright with you, withholding important information that is crucial to your leadership.
- You may tend to rush to lead others to a positive solution before they have had adequate time to vent -- which leads to greater frustration on their part. Learn to honor another person's feelings, and allow them enough space and time to express their feelings before moving on.
- Be careful to be genuine in your praise of others. False praise can be more discouraging than criticism. Celebrate the small accomplishments -- but be sure there is actually something to celebrate.
Positivity: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation
In order to productively aim Positivity -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) knowledge of how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Positivity talents by exploring the following:
- The Power and Edge of Positivity: Those with Positivity among their Signature Themes are quick to smile, love to laugh, and generally see the best -- in situations and in people. This makes them natural energizers when things bog down, and they can be a source of encouragement and bring confidence to others.
- The Vulnerabilities of Positivity: Because those with strong Positivity talents focus on the bright side of a given situation, others can perceive and experience them as unrealistic or naïve. In certain situations, this can prevent them and their teams from considering potential problems and finding practical solutions.
Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Positivity by helping them explore instances in the past when this theme was particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:
- What is the most recent celebration you've planned? How did you help others have fun?
- When did your Positivity help you persevere through a particularly difficult time?
- What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Positivity talents contribute to that success?
- Who brings out your best at work -- your best work, your best attitude, your best self?
Self-regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to amplify, accelerate, activate, soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Positivity talents can be so averse to bad news that they don't want to hear it. They also may refuse to deal with a difficult problem, hoping instead that it will just go away. In situations like these, a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either amplify or moderate Positivity:
- Themes that tend to amplify Positivity: Communication, Activator, Woo, Futuristic, Maximizer, Individualization
- Themes that tend to moderate Positivity: Restorative, Analytical, Deliberative, Intellection, Consistency, Discipline
Positivity: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming
- How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Positivity talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
- What is the greatest value your Positivity talents contribute to your team? How have you communicated that to your manager or team leader?
- When your team gets discouraged, how can you use your Positivity to build them up and get them going again?
- How can you use your Positivity to help your colleagues see what is going well for them and keep them motivated?
- When your team reaches important milestones, how will you help the team celebrate those milestones?