David J.




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June 8, 2009

7 Reasons for Positive Updates


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 things.


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:


  1. You are channeling your team members’ attention. You are engaging them with your request.
  2. You are reminding them to keep track of what’s good in their lives, not just what’s wrong.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 engaged.


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.


David J. 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. Mr. 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.


© 2009 David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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