Psychology Today featured an article recently describing situations that can lead to burnout. While reducing burnout and other signs of stress are important, what intrigued me most was one of the factors that led to this “diagnosis.” Burnout and stress were shown to not be caused by overwork alone, but moreover the negativity, criticism, or apathy for the efforts.
We all have examples of working hard on projects, cases, and client needs to have the effort minimized, or worse, only have the small mistakes highlighted rather than the overall success. And, we are all guilty of seeing these small negative items rather than the larger positive impact ourselves!
For example, I coordinated an event a number of years ago where hundreds of people attended. I was extremely happy with the turnout and vendors were as well. Halfway through the day, one vendor approached and commented about the lack of advertising and attendance. Looking out over the sea of people, I couldn’t see what would lead them to this judgement. However, when asked about the event by a colleague the following day, the only thing I mentioned was the ONE negative comment, not the hundreds of people or other happy vendors.
Why is it so much easier for us to focus on the negative? Just because we choose to comment about positive things, doesn’t mean that we are blind to the things that can be improved. Commenting on things that are going well shows respect for those who are trying to make a difference and encourages them to continue to make improvements for the future.
Negative comments increase the probability of burnout and, therefore, decrease the efforts that will eventually impact the progress we want to see! The positive culture we model and encourage in our businesses and organizations does not mean we are blind to opportunities for growth, it means we recognize that efforts are being made to improve.
To the business owners, community organizers, customer service professionals, and all who are stepping up for our communities and customers, know that your efforts are valued and are making a difference. The support we show one another is what makes progress possible.