Business Sabotage: How Negativity Can Make Or Break Your Business and Personal Success!

I received an advanced copy of a book called How Full Is Your Bucket, by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton. Gallup Press (a renowned company that provides research and scientifically based educational materials) publishes this little gem of a book filled with nuggets of wisdom and inspiration.

In my early twenties I worked in retail sales for many years and had the misfortune to work under a bitter, negative woman. Over time, daily contact with her had begun to erode my self-confidence and self-esteem. Leaving that job to join a large retain chain, I found myself in a positive environment and rose to the position of office manager in less than six months. Being treated with respect and feeling appreciated for my abilities, restored my self-confidence.

That’s why I liked this book. It centers on a theme I have been practicing for years – focusing on what’s right about people instead of what’s wrong.

Below is an excerpt from page 15:

The Theory of the Bucket and the Dipper
“Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending upon what others say or do to us.
Each of us has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill each other’s bucket by doing and saying things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves.

A full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in the bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic. But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy and undermines our will. So we face a choice every moment of every day: we can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice – one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness. “

Pioneering research studies by psychology expert John Gottman suggests there is a “magic ratio” of 5:1 (5 positive to 1 negative) in terms of our balance of positive to negative interactions. Meaning: While a single negative interaction can have a strong emotional impact, several positive interactions will refill your bucket.

Being emotionally positive does not suggest that every comment and action should be one of only praise and acknowledgement because dealing with mistakes and helping others to learn and grow is important. The authors say that “ positivity must be grounded in reality” or the result may be to create false optimism that is counterproductive and off-putting. But most people do not suffer from too much positive support. While we are not responsible for how people interpret our actions and words, how we deliver a message will affect whether it may be filling or diminishing someone’s heart.

According to the Gallup poll:

1. The #1 reason people leave their jobs: They don’t feel appreciated.
2. Bad bosses can increase the risk of stroke by 33%.
3. The cost of disengagement or extreme negativity: $250-$300 billion per year.
4. A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with – for good.
5. 65% of American received no recognition in the workplace last year.
6. Praise is rare in most workplaces.
7. 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they are around positive people.

The bottom line – sustaining negativity is costly to both business and personal success!

Examples of filling people’s buckets:
Random acts of kindness
Unexpected gifts
A smile
A compliment
Praise
Acknowledgement

Examples of dipping into other people’s buckets:
– Blatantly or subtly criticizing others people mistakes or faults
– Poking fun at people (at the expense of the person)
– Attacking people’s insecurities
– Withholding positive emotional support
– We are responsible for the amount of power we give to people to influence us. And we are affected by negativity especially when it is consistent.

By recognizing and appreciating people’s talents/gifts, strengths and uniqueness, we increase positive emotions in our relationships, both personally and professionally. When we say and do things that evoke positive feelings in people, we also feel good about ourselves. People thrive when they feel respected, appreciated and valued. Approaching each interaction with the intent to help others feel good is a powerfull way to initiate new relationships and deepen others.

What kind of person are you? A bucket filler or dipper?
What would you change about yourself to be a more supportive person?
In what ways do you bring out the best in the people at work? In your personal life?

Exercise: Over the next 30 days, intentionally practice being a bucket filler to people in your world. Watch what happens!