COMPANY CULTURE / DEC. 19, 2014
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Why It's Better To Be Happy at Work

One’s outlook on life is pretty fundamental to how happy and successful we are.  Indeed, our mindset at work was the focal point of Stanford University’s Carol Dweck’s recent book Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential (a good read by the way).

She highlights the value of what she terms a growth mindset, whereby you don’t tend to think of yourself as someone that’s fixed in their abilities, but rather someone who is malleable and can evolve over time.  She suggests that this approach to life allows us to bounce back from the various setbacks that may await us in life and become better, more rounded people.

A recent study also highlights the value of the right mindset, except this time it focuses upon how optimistic we are at work.  The study found that our enthusiasm and optimism can prove infectious, with it prompting others to rate the financial performance of our companies better than they otherwise would.

"Ours is the first study to look at the effect of how managers naturally convey themselves," the researchers reveal. "To do this we tracked the way CEOs and CFOs communicate earnings across their leadership roles at multiple firms to decipher their overall communication style."

The researchers trawled through the transcripts of a host of conversations between managers and investors.  They were on the look out for the number of times positive or negative words were used during each conversation.  They then matched this up with the financial performance of those companies on the stock exchange.

Optimism for the win

The study revealed that when managers conversed in language that was full of optimistic sounding words, their optimism had a bewitching impact upon the investors on the other end of the line.  Such was their impact that the stock price of each firm with an optimistic manager performed much better than their more sober peers.

So were there any trends about who was the most optimistic?  Interestingly, it emerged that CEOs were usually a lot more positive than their CFOs.  What’s more, if you began your career in a recession, the study suggests that you’re much less likely to be found using optimistic language, which is interesting for those of you just entering the job market. 

What’s more, it emerged that male managers tended to be more optimistic than their female peers, whilst those in charge of charities were the most optimistic industry sector.

"Investors should be aware that there are human factors at play when they’re listening to reports on firm performance," the researchers suggest. "We tend to think managers are being strategic in their delivery, but sometimes they just can’t help but be human - for better or worse."

It underlines the potent power optimism has on the effectiveness of our communication with others.  Whilst the research was limited to conversations with investors and analysts, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t apply just as well with conversations on other topics.

Do you make a conscious effort to convey optimism when you communicate with colleagues, customers and other stakeholders?  How effective have you found this to be?  Let me know in the comments below.

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