I had a manager come to me recently for coaching because she received feedback that her team was feeling unappreciated. The good news was that her team let her know how they were feeling. The bad news was that this manager felt bad that her team wasn’t receiving more praise from her.
But the truth is that we aren’t wired to share appreciation and feel grateful. Our naturally hard-wired defense mechanism is to look for the threat “out there” and then to react to any rustling that comes from the bushes. This could be the “threat” coming from the boss who wants to talk to us after work or even from a new task being given to us that we weren’t expecting.
One of the most common ways to do this is to believe that we don’t “have enough time.” It is certainly one of my favorites.
All of the alarms go off and it feels like a matter of life or death. Our brains are naturally looking for these moments all day long. “Be careful,” it says, even when you are just sitting at your desk typing on your computer.
This is known as our naturally occurring negativity bias. It isn’t our fault, but we can take responsibility for it and see how this creates a reality that most of the time isn’t accurate.
So, what to do? Practice the opposite of fearing ourselves until death.
Yes, we can employ specific practices that begin to “unhook” us from our default patterns of looking for the tiger in the bushes.
One of my favorite practices at work (and in life) is gratitude. The practice is simple: Write down three things you are grateful for at work and how those things influenced the positive moments in your life.
Science has supported this as producing positive emotion and a greater sense of well-being in those who have practiced it regularly. If you want to take this to the next level, start your next team meeting with this practice. It is a game-changer.
Or, read even more information about the power of this practice.
Give it a try and let me know what impact it has on you and your team.
The Leadership Weekly
Weekly wisdom from the DS Leadership Life team.