Maintaining trust during difficult times
By Pamela Jett
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where “choosing to be happy” just didn’t seem to be working? Perhaps you are in a serious or challenging situation and being upbeat is downright inappropriate. You’ve heard motivational speakers emphasize “choosing to be happy” in all situations, and yet you find yourself cringing and thinking, “Here we go again” or “Nothing is that simple” or “My pressures and stressors are real!”
Having a perky attitude has its place. Exuberant cheerfulness by choice can, without a doubt, help create a positive environment in the workplace. Yet, after more than two decades of working with professionals to enhance their communication and leadership skills—and frequently encouraging people to “choose to be happy”—I’ve recently decided that happiness is overrated.
Choosing to be happy is good. It is powerful. But sometimes we need something more.
We live in challenging times, and leaders must have the ability to move a team forward and be productive while simultaneously acknowledging the crises they face. Failing to recognize these very real struggles can cause leaders to lose credibility and teams to lose effectiveness. Failure to acknowledge challenges minimizes psychological safety, which is a key driver of success.
Imagine if a leader had to lay off a substantial number of employees on a Friday. It would not only be absurd for them to come into work on Monday upbeat, but it would also be counter-productive for them to do so. Team members would wonder, “Don’t they know our friends and colleagues are without jobs? Is management that insensitive?” It’s a tough spot for leaders to be in. Happy and upbeat is a poor choice during challenging times, but being morose and depressed isn’t good either.
It’s during times like these that what we really need is the ability to choose to be relentlessly positive. Relentless positivity is the constant application of effective and productive optimism.
Based in neuroscience and with a focus on business application, the art of choosing to be relentlessly positive is something everyone can master. Relentless positivity moves us beyond the power of positive thinking and into the mindset and language crucial for resilience and success in today’s world.
Pamela Jett, CSP, is a leadership and communication expert based in Phoenix. Her latest keynote presentations, “The Relentlessly Positive Leader” and “The Relentlessly Positive Communicator,” provide audiences of all types with tools to overcome adversity and challenges.