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In a stressful situation, do you tend to see a glass as half empty or half full? Your view indicates the position/negative orientation in emotional intelligence (EI).

A “glass half empty” perspective suggests that in a stressful environment, you might quickly interpret the situation, the people involved, and even yourself in negative ways. There is an advantage of this perspective though in that you may be able to quickly identify the problems in a situation and mitigate them faster than others. However, this perspective can also bog you down by becoming a cognitive pattern that decreases your overall level of well-being.

The advantage of a “glass half full” person is that you can identify the additional possibilities outside of the obvious problem areas, allowing you to move forward with creative solutions. Positive emotions also provide a swift antidote to physical stress and anxiety. On the other side, the “glass half full” perspective may also filter out negatives and lead to overly-optimistic thinking and actions that are out of touch with reality.

That’s why a balance between negative and positive orientation is important.

Practices on balancing negative and positive orientation

Finding balance in negative and positive perspective take practice. Notice what types of situations and interactions trigger strong positive and negative responses within you, and how you show up with your reactions. This is a step forward on self-awareness, an essential step towards building emotional resilience.

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor lists many practices to develop the positive perspective: meditation, finding something to look forward to, committing conscious acts of kindness, infusing positivity into your surroundings, exercising, spending money on experiences, and exercising a signature strength.

If you often hold “glass half full” perspective, keeping track of your evaluations of situations and people and then working with someone you trust to review your actions based on your evaluation to make sure you are not over optimistic.

Leadership & balanced negative and positive orientation 

As a leader, remember that people act as we expect them to act. Your expectation motivates your team. Shawn suggested three questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?
  2. Do I believe that my employees what to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?
  3. How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?

After all, we live in a fast-paced changing world and our perspectives impact each other. When we raise self-awareness and achieve emotional resilience, we are doing far more than improving our own well-being and performance; our communities will be impacted positively.


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