Why a positive attitude matters at work and how to get one

7 tips to get a more positive mindset


A positive attitude at work is important to be perceived as a professional, to get along with your colleagues and it will help you to get the promotion you want. So, plenty of motivation to get there right?

However, how can you get to that positive mindset? Because this is not always easy, also when looking at my own experiences. I will give you 7 ways to get to a positive mindset. Moreover, I will also tell you when it will not help to work on your attitude?

Why working on a positive attitude can be harmful

The third principle described by Stephen Covey in the 7 habits of highly effective people is “Begin with the end in mind” – if you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend that you do.

To begin with the end in mind is very important, as you need to figure out for yourself if your job actually aligns with what you want to achieve in life. Of course, the money is important in your job, but that alone will not be motivation enough for you to cultivate a positive attitude. Other elements which are important for job satisfaction are:

  • Having a good manager
  • The mission statement of the company you are working for aligns with your core values
  • You can have a high level of contribution
  • The required skillset aligns with your core competencies

Just starting out and trying to improve your mindset without taking this into due consideration will never work. A positive attitude definitely is not something you can just switch on and off. This requires a thorough analysis of your motivation and core values. Also, you will need to practice these habits again and again.

Why a positive mindset is important to your employer

In a blog post about cultivating a positive mindset, written by Sabrina (HR manager), I found a couple of important arguments why employers try to seek out those employees with a positive mindset. (This is a great blog by the way, I definitely recommend it)

Employees who display a more positive mindset are more productive, increase the teamwork and help with retention. An example of increased employee productivity is in Sales, where positive employees achieve 37 % higher revenues.  Another interesting fact is that employees from the Fortune’s top 100 best companies to work for increased their stock prices with 14 percent, compared to 6 percent of other companies. Therefore, it pays off for the employer to hire the employees with the better disposition.

Taking your happiness in your own hands

Happiness is partially determined by our genes. However, we still determine 40 percent of our happiness ourselves. This is definitely a significant percentage. I don’t always naturally have a positive mindset myself . I don’t necessarily think this is always a bad thing. For example, overly optimistic managers do tend to make wrong investment decisions, because they only look at the upside of an investment decision.

Moreover, I get very annoyed when people come in the office in the morning, already completely happy and excited (just not a morning person – first need my coffee!!).

However, I do catch and correct myself when I tend to become overly pessimistic. A realistic outlook on life is the best way to get where you want to go. And pessimism can be just as unrealistic as optimism, remember that. Pessimism is even more harmful as it also has negative effects on your health because your body is releasing more cortisol (stress hormone).

7 tips to get to a positive mindset

After exploring your inner motivation, you are ready for some techniques and idea’s to improve your attitude. I definitely advise to only focus on one or two of the tips to create a positive mindset at the time. Habit change is difficult and will take you some time (here’s more on changing habits).


1. Engage with happy people

Unfortunately, negativity rubs off on other people. So if you have a lot of colleagues who are negative all the time, this will also affect your disposition. Therefore, if you want to create a positive mindset, do not join in complaints about other people for instance. And also engage with other people who have a positive mindset, as this will also rub off on you!

2. Foster meaningful relationships

Fostering meaningful relationships is essential to have a positive mindset. Close friendships at work with colleagues improve job satisfaction with a whopping 50 percent! Also, having a larger network increases your chances of success. This is because your performance is difficult to compare with the performance of other colleagues. Research has shown that if it is difficult to assess the performance, networks are essential in giving you the edge over other people (you can read more in this article if you’re interested). Therefore, fostering meaningful relationships will make you happier and bring you more success.

3. Don’t complain – start acting

Complaining and negative emotions actually makes your IQ drop a few points. It’s also not very helpful, as the problems won’t go away after complaining. Instead, be mindful of when new problems arise in your mind. When they do, try not to worry too much about the problems. Instead, use the following approach to address the problems you are facing – and write them down:

  1. What is the problem you are facing?
  2. Why is this a problem?
  3. Can I do something about the problem?
  4. If not, who can help me?

This will give you an action plan, that will help you feel more in control. This will automatically make you more positive.

4. Be mindful at your work

Remember that there is a deep relationship between your body and mind. When you worry too much, this will create tension in your body. There’s even no need to do meditation exercises. When you are stressed or are getting stressed, it is much more difficult to maintain a positive mindset. Therefore, it is important to prevent (too much) stress as much as possible. In this article from Deepak Chopra, there’s 4 easy steps at work which you can take to prevent stress:

  1. Leave your desk every hour or so to have a stretch.
  2. Check every now and again if negative thoughts arise. When they do, make sure to make yourself centered again (for example, by being aware of your breaths).
  3. Take some time alone when you can afford to have a break. Walks in nature especially make you more centered.
  4. When facing high amounts of stress, take a break immediately. This will ensure that you are more centered when facing the problem again.

For more mindfulness meditation exercises, you can check out my article about the benefits of mindfulness.

5. Say no more often

In his book “Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, Greg McKeown states that to be successful in life, we need to focus on the few instead of on the many. So for instance, if you’re a so-called “go-to” person at work who knows a lot about a certain topic, a lot of tiny requests will eat up your day. Therefore, it is important to say no some of those requests, especially if they distract you from your priorities. Because a lot of requests that you don’t want to be working on will be detrimental to getting to a positive mindset. And if you want to improve your attitude, ironically you should not accommodate all the requests at work that come your way.

6. Writing down positive things and practice gratitude

When we practice writing down the positive actions we took at work, however small, we also practice our brains into a different thought pattern. Often, the negative thought patterns are more ingrained in our brains than our positive ones. However, why not “exercise” our brains to have more positive thoughts? This reduces our stress levels and has many positive effects. For more information on such positive effects, this post might also be interesting for you. An exercise is to write 3 positive things that you did for that day or of which you are grateful, just before you go to sleep. This will help you relax and see the brighter side of life and it will get you into a more positive mindset.

7. Find tasks / projects you like and spend more time on those

Which tasks or projects give you energy? Do more of those. Those tasks you generally will be better at, so the results will also be better. You need to purposefully make time in your agenda to make it happen, because otherwise the smaller tasks (answering email, helping colleagues with small requests etc.) will definitely chip away the time you have in the day.


Conclusion on creating a positive mindset

Creating or having a positive mindset is essential for you and your employer. You will be happier and more productive if your attitude is positive (which is backed by research). However, it is not always easy to be positive all of the time. You can use the following techniques to achieve this:

  1. Engage with happy people
  2. Foster meaningful relationships
  3. Don’t complain – start acting
  4. Be mindful at your work
  5. Say no more often
  6. Writing down positive things and practice gratitude
  7. Find tasks / projects you like and spend more time on those

Thanks for reading this post. Don’t forget to like and share it and see you back here next week for the next article!

Further reading:

Credits image
– Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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