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June 8, 2009
7 Reasons for Positive
The most common way of getting people to share ideas is to hold a
meeting. We’ve all attended hundreds, if not thousands, of meetings.
But here’s the problem. Let me demonstrate it. Pretend the following
statement applies to you right now.
“You have to go to a meeting.”
Okay. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? If you’re like most
people, you’re not happy. You might have said to yourself, “Oh no. I
just want to get my work done.” or “Why do I have to sit in another
meeting?” or “This is going to be a waste of time.” If this is how you
feel, how do you think other people feel? This is what you’re up against
when you ask people to come to your meeting.
Most people come to meetings in the mood of the last call they had,
e-mail they read, meeting they attended or interaction they had with
someone. Their moods and attention are basically tied up in other
The key is to get everyone focused on the expected outcomes of your
meeting. So you have to do something different. I’ll share with you what
I’ve been doing for years with my team meetings. It will not cure
people’s fear or dread of meetings, but it will help you get your
meetings off to a good start every time. Begin your meetings with what I
call “positive updates.”
Here’s how to do it. If the group is eight or less (I’ll talk about big
groups in another column), ask them all to share one positive or
important thing that happened to them since the last time you met. (I
include “important” because it leaves open the possibility for someone
to mention an event that might not be categorized as positive, but is
obviously important to them.) It can be personal or professional. It can
be something they’re excited about, proud of or interested in. Tell them
they have 30 seconds to give their update. Then go around the room
sharing positive updates. Encourage quick reactions from everyone in the
group, but ask that extended responses be shared after the meeting.
Why should you open your meetings with this strategy? Here are my seven
reasons for positive updates:
You are channeling
your team members’ attention. You are engaging them with your
You are reminding
them to keep track of what’s good in their lives, not just what’s
You are helping
them access their positive emotions. When they recall something good
that happened in their lives, they are likely to feel pride,
excitement, gratitude, enthusiasm, encouragement or optimism. The
research of Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., at the University of North
Carolina demonstrates how experiencing positive emotions is critical
for success in business and life.
You are learning
about your team members. You are opening a window into what matters
to them and what makes them unique. What do they focus on? What
makes them happy? When do they succeed?
You get insight
into what they like to do and what they’re good at doing. You can
look for more opportunities for them to do what they do well.
You’ll know how to
better recognize your people. You’ll find out what matters to them
in their short updates. Rather than giving them some formulaic
recognition award, you can tailor your gratitude to their interests.
You’ll give your
team members the opportunity to learn more about each other. You’ll
provide the opening for teammates to talk about each others’
interests and what matters to them.
All of this happens in 10 minutes or less. The great thing is that you
don’t have to come up with a big entertaining way to start every
meeting. Just ask people to tell each other something positive or
important. They’ll share. Team members will listen. Everyone will be
Still thinking if you should do this? Stop for a second. Write down one
positive thing that happened to you over the past week. Take a minute
and think of one. Do it now. Write it down. Then
e-mail me what you wrote. I’ll bet you feel pretty good right now.
You might even be ready for a meeting.
Pollay is the creator of
The Law of the Garbage Truck™.
Mr. Pollay writes the
Monday Morning Momentum Blog
each week. He is a syndicated columnist
with the North Star Writers
Group, creator and host of
The Happiness Answer™
television program, and an internationally sought after speaker.
Pollay’s book, Beware of Garbage Trucks!™, is due out later this year. Mr. Pollay is the
founder and president of the consulting and seminar organization,
The Momentum Project.
David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be
republished without permission.
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