Is the glass half full or half empty? That's a phrase you've encountered to determine whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Do you know which category you identify with?
The spectrum of personalities that you can encounter in a workplace is endless. The dynamics of a team can impact productivity and the delivery of results. Each member of an organization has a personality.
Have you ever encountered a teammate whose personality drains the light out of you? Or the opposite, a teammate who can still put a smile on their face even when faced with an apocalypse. Not everyone is your cup of tea. The same goes for you, perhaps your vibes just don't mesh well together with someone else. But that shouldn't be an issue when working together.
There's a wide range of personalities in the world. And these two are often found in every workplace: optimists and pessimists. Optimists are people who see the good in everything. They are always looking on the bright side and expect things to work out flawlessly. Pessimists are people who expect the worst outcomes. They tend to be cautious and realistic that something bad may happen.
This is where psychological safety at work is vital. This is a condition wherein an individual won't be humiliated for speaking up with questions, concerns, and ideas. Psychological safety exercises can be used to address conflict. The psychological safety book by Timothy Clark goes in-depth about the stages.
4 Stages of Psychological Safety
1. Inclusion Safety
There must be a sense of belongingness. No fear of judgment. No one in the team should be treated as an outsider. Everyone should feel that they are valued. A study on attrition shows that 51% of individuals leave their job due to a lack of sense of belonging.
This involves fostering open communication and trusting your teammates. A culture of mutual respect and collaboration is built.
2. Learner Safety
Asking questions can be beneficial to a team. It encourages understanding a concept on a deeper level. Members can feel free to experiment and discover concepts on their own.
3. Contributor Safety
Participation will always count, especially in a team. Contribute ideas and suggestions. Allow individuals to hone their talents by letting them use their strengths.
4. Challenger Safety
This is the stage where optimists and pessimists can express their different perspectives. What's important is the respect that comes with questioning others' ideas.
Dealing with Pessimists
Pessimists can make you feel like bringing an umbrella for the rain on a very sunny day. They can also make you feel like everything can go wrong on a project. By practicing the psychological safety rules, you can try to encourage a more balanced outlook for them.
1. Listen and Understand
Give pessimists an opportunity to express their concerns. Try to understand their point of view and let them give their reasons for doubting.
2. Show Empathy
Acknowledge that the concerns raised are valid. Let them feel that they are heard and their insights are valuable.
3. Provide Constructive Criticism
Pessimists are good at identifying where things can go wrong. That is an advantage that every team should leverage. If a concern seems too unlikely to happen, also let them know. Come up with a game plan on how to address the risks involved.
4. Encourage Positivity
Negative aspects are a pessimist's best friend. They label themselves as "realistic" and can be a big believer in Murphy's law. Help redirect their attention to potential solutions and also highlight successes.
5. Leverage Their Strength
Engage pessimists by involving them in decision-making processes. They can provide insight into where things go wrong and how the team prepares for it. It will also make them feel more invested in making sure that there's a positive outcome.
Dealing with Optimists
Optimists will have you convinced that there's a silver lining in an unfortunate event. They can make you feel happy even when there's a storm brewing. Leverage their positive energy in the workplace and give them a safe space that allows them to express their thoughts.
1. Give Realistic Assessments
It's important to provide optimists with a reality check. Bring up potential risks and challenges. Encourage them to consider various scenarios and develop backup plans.
Positive energy and enthusiasm can radiate to the entire team. Employees who have a positive outlook are 103% more inspired to exert their best effort in their work. It is always important to keep the team's spirit up - and you can trust someone optimistic to do that!
3. Provide Feedback and Accountability
Make sure that they are accountable to their commitments. Set up meetings to provide feedback and reminders. It is important to remind them to stay grounded and focus on results.
4. Challenge Assumptions
Help optimists think critically about their ideas. Guide them to be able to different spur-of-the-moment ideas and sustainable long-term ideas. Encourage them to explore potential risks and help them refine their plans.
5. Leverage Their Strength
Optimists have a keen eye for spotting glowing opportunities. Engage them in problem-solving processes. They can provide insight into how things can be solved or find another way to do things. It will make them feel that they are valued and will happily radiate that energy back to their work.
Practicing Psychological Safety
Leading with psychological safety in mind is essential. It can bring about the following vital aspects of good and conducive workplace culture:
- Open communication
- Respect for diverse perspectives
- Encourages support and inclusion
Activities that are recommended to practice in the workplace:
- No-interruptions rule: Give everyone a chance to speak their thoughts without the fear of being interrupted. This will allow people's thoughts to flow continuously. Withhold comments till their turn is done.
- Write Down Anxieties: Share the anxieties that worry them the most. This can be team problems that haven't been addressed. The team can work through the issues and provide solutions.
- Uncover the stinky fish: This is a metaphor for talking about issues that nobody wants to talk about. It's about addressing an elephant in the room and having closure to any issues.
Different outlooks can come together as long as everyone is working towards the same goals. It is important to apply appropriate strategies to manage attitudes effectively. Pessimists bring risk awareness and critical thinking. Optimists provide motivation to reach a goal and focus on opportunities.
Learn to embrace diversity in a team. A workplace that has a balance of both positive and negative energies can lead to better decision-making processes.
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