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Why Focus on Negatives When You Can Better Your Positives?

By August 11, 2017 No Comments

APD Panel Operations Director Raj Ravindran talks about how one exercise can help you keep putting the right foot forward when it comes to personal and professional assessment of yourself and others.

Happy belated End of Financial Year! OK, so it’s a tad late, but better late than never, right? What a fun time. We pay a visit to the tax man, organisations look at financials and employees have their dreaded performance review. The latter can be a daunting experience for both employees as well as managers, because, let’s face it — when it comes to giving feedback, we always have to walk that fine line between being nice and constructive.

Since we were young, we’ve always thought to fix what was wrong by addressing our shortcomings first. This is often displayed in the workplace during performance reviews. Managers inadvertently look at an employee’s inadequacies when setting KPIs, in some cases failing to address the strengths of workers. Why focus on the negatives? I say we look at what’s working and focus on the positives!

Positivity can help you do everything from better assess your colleagues and yourself in and out of the office to bask in the warm glow of sunlight in a peaceful field. (source: Ocean of Possibilities)

During my post grad study at the University of Technology Sydney, I studied a subject called Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is the overarching concept that defines the application and research of human flourishing through strengths, virtues, resilience, flow and optimal well-being. The emphasis on positivity and strengths has been particularly influential in the way that many organisations conduct their performance reviews with employees and, in turn, develop an enriching culture.

One exercise I completed was called the Reflected Best Self (RBS). The RBS exercise draws upon the use of positive feedback in relation to strengths. This allows the individual to employ these strengths to generate a self-portrait and turn the extraordinary into reality.

Sound a bit far-fetched? Let me give you an example of how the exercise worked.

At APD, I emailed and interviewed approximately 10 people who I interact with regularly to participate in a survey. This survey asked each person what positives and strengths I possess. As awkward as the exercise was, it was interesting to hear such positive feedback from people with whom I’ve had day-to-day contact, and reading about it did bring a tear to my eye!

Upon collating all the results, I found mutual themes and recurring strengths that I could form as part of my “Reflected Best Self.” I can use these strengths, incorporating them into my day-to-day life as well as utilising them to better my weaknesses.

Incorporating what you learn about your Reflected Best Self can change the way you think about everyday tasks. (source: Coach Federation)

This RBS exercise was a trip down memory lane in the sense that it reminded me of my strengths. We are too often focused on the negatives and rectifying what is wrong, whether in a performance appraisal by your manager or in self-assessments. The RBS exercise reinforces your strengths and constructs a plan to build upon them. It is often suggested in psychological research that, to build resilience, we must first identify our strengths, and the RBS exercise provides an avenue for this.

There are claims that this exercise is merely one of ego stroking, but, on the contrary, I believe this was an activity on enhancing strengths and unveiling untapped potential. Used correctly, this exercise will certainly be an enlightening experience to help you access unchartered areas of potential and use your strengths to better shape the next phase of your career and life.

Next time you’re assessing yourself or someone else, try to not get too caught up in the negatives and focus more on the positives!

Raj Ravindran is the Panel Operations Director for the APD Research and Insights team. When he isn’t coming up with ways to better engage our Survey Choice research panel from they Sydney office, he is adding to his overflowing sneaker collection or compulsively posting on Instagram with a plethora of hashtags.