How To Spend 12 Days Tilting To The Good

Recently I invited three friends to be test readers for the first three chapters of the book I am writing. My ask was to focus only on meaning and clarity. I was both happy and fascinated with the feedback I received.

The comments generally followed a pattern similar to this one: "On pages 39, 54 and 75 there are spacing errors in a couple paragraphs and some of the layout is weird. Other than that great stuff, love your ideas. Provocative."

One reader found a dangling participle that even my editor had missed.

While all responses were most welcome (feedback is a precious gift), my expectation had been that people would overlook errors in spacing and layout. However, their observations shouldn’t have surprised me. Why not? Their attention to the faults was in line with the findings of psychologist Roy Baumeister that “bad is stronger than good. Our brains react more quickly to what is negative, and bosses, society, and the like reward us for doing so.

We receive promotions for fixing what’s broken or ineffective. We get kudos from the boss for problem solving, so of course we look for problems to solve. We receive positive acknowledgment in performance reviews for removing barriers and ferreting out waste.

Adults spend more time looking at negative than at positive stimuli, perceive negative stimuli to be more complex than positive ones, and form more complex cognitive representations of negative than of positive stimuli.

To learn more, read the NIH Study.

Even our use of words is changing, tilting more to negative than positive.

Research shows:

  • 74 percent of the words we use to describe other people are negative
  • Virtue words like humility and kindness are falling out of favor as are words such as character and decency that describe the general moral worth of a person, and
  • In low-performing work groups, there are three negative comments to each positive one.

No wonder Gallup reports that only 34 percent of employees are engaged in their work.

Hmmm, it’s holiday time. Think we could capitalize on this generally good-spirited time of year to flip the focus from negative to positive within our sphere of influence and practice 12 days of giving good tidings?

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson observes that tilting to the good helps us put challenges in perspective, lifts our energy and spirits, and fills our cup so we have more to give to others.

Ready to give it a try?

12 Days Of Giving Good Tidings

  • Day 1 - Give a sincere thank you to three people.
  • Day 2 - Overlook the molehill. Just let it go.
  • Day 3 - Smile at everyone you pass in any hallway or on the street—every time, all day.
  • Day 4 - Take a colleague to lunch and learn more about him or her. No work talk.
  • Day 5 - Shut down negative self-talk as well as bad thoughts about others. ‘Tis a day for giving the benefit of the doubt.
  • Day 6 - Be appreciative. Tell the barista how her good coffee gets your day off to a good start. Tell the receptionist how his thoughtful screening of visitors is a big help to your productivity. Tell your assistant that he’s the glue that holds everything together.
  • Day 7 - Give a sincere thank you to three people.
  • Day 8 - End your day by identifying three things for which you’re grateful. Ask someone what his or her three things would be.
  • Day 9 - Make it a point to say five positive things to every negative one that’s spoken.
  • Day 10 - Volunteer to help a co-worker who is struggling to complete a rush project.
  • Day 11 - Give a few of those out-of-favor words a workout. Tell someone how impressed you are with his character. Give someone a shout-out for being kind. Tell someone how important her grace and courage are in speaking truth to power.
  • Day 12 - Give a sincere thank you to three people.
In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of kindness and compassion that remind us what it means to be human.
~ William C. Taylor

My ask of you is to begin your twelve days of giving good tidings today. Then come back on day 13 and comment on your experience, good, bad or extraordinary. Game to give good tidings a try?

power of positive leadership