Straight to the Heart

Imagine for a moment that every day as soon as you walked in the door of your workplace or checked your morning email while working at home, you were met by your supervisor in person or were on the receiving end of an electronic message from your leader that reinforced how appreciated you are in the workforce.

That is exactly what Chris Ulmer, a special needs teacher in Florida does, each day by taking the time to single out something positive about his students. He may say something along the lines of:

• I love being your teacher.
• You are a good soccer player.
• All your friends really like you.
• I think you are going to have a great day.

Ulmer indicated that his class culture of positivity has been contagious. He claims the most powerful influence of a positive learning environment is students are so connected to each other that individual accomplishments feel owned by the entire class.

You may be saying to yourself that what works in a special needs class has no application in a volatile, uncertain, constantly changing and ambiguous workplace of adults. Think again.

According to consultants Trish McFarlane and Juile Zadow of Globoforce and HR Advisers, positive workplaces produce employees who:

• Stay twice as long in their jobs.
• Take 10 times less sick leave.
• Are 31% more productive.
• Are better focused on their work.
• Believe they are living up to their full potential.

A slew of other studies point out that positive people are:

• Less stressed and depressed- 2007, Journal of Research in Personality.
• Sacrifice for the greater good- 2010, American Psychological Association Journal.
• Get along better with others- 2008, Clinical Psychology Review.
• Sleep better- 2012, The Hong Kong Institute of Education.
• Achieve more- 2003, University of California.
• Help others- 2006, Northwestern University.
• Less aggressive- 2012 University of Kentucky.
• Physically healthy- 2013, University of Connecticut.
• Resilient to trauma- 2006, Behavior Research and Therapy.

Have you mastered the art of heart talk? All it takes is telling your colleagues every day how appreciated and important they are. Jack Canfield calls it chicken soup for the soul. What’s on your menu at work?

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Christina Galeassi

Cheers to that, Richard! That reminds me of a story I read somewhere about a school that sent out congratulatory letters to the parents of their gifted students but in a mix-up, the letters went out to the parents of the students who were on the list of underperforming students. The school didn’t notice the error until much later but what they did notice was that the underperforming students grades shot up! How did that happen? We can only surmise it was because their parents were proud of them and encouraged by that, the students felt smarter and lived up to their “gifted” status.

T.D. Leflore

Richard, great article! Hopefully more people will consider how they engage others in both professional and personal situations. They may be surprised by the difference it could make.

Gary Cordeiro

My daughter works with handicapped adults as a job coach and utilizes these same principles daily. She is a recipient of the Works of Heart award given by the Oregon Rehabilitation Association. Keep up the good work, everyone.