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Putting Positive Psychology to Work

The global financial crisis has brought uncertainty and fear into the lives of many people. Rising unemployment has led consumers to spend their money more conservatively. Businesses’ earnings were affected, and more people were let go. This cyclical pattern fueled by stress and growing insecurity has the power to negatively affect many aspects of life including performance at work.

Larry Froman, a professor at Towson University, suggests that positive psychology might be the answer. In his article “Positive Psychology in The Workplace” he proposes that positive psychology can help employees cope better with economic stress. Furthermore, in times of economic downturn, implementing positive psychology in the workplace can create a proactive and positive work environment that supports creativity and productiveness, and bridges economic and personal goals.

Froman focuses on how different conceptual themes in positive psychology can advance employees’ performance and work experience. Here are a few:

Strength, Virtue and Self-Determination—a work environment that encourages employees’ engagement and involvement in intrinsically stratifying activities can lead them in to a state of flow, a state in which time stops and self-consciousness is blocked. That state of mind can trigger behavior that is characterized by self-determination, strength, and virtue.

Emotional Intelligence (EI)—EI is described as our ability to self-regulate our own emotions and feelings and better understand the emotions and feelings of others. In organizational literature, EI is considered a skill that can be developed and fostered by implementing leadership programs that incorporate it. EI helps employees interact better and work together more effectively to achieve optimal outcomes. Research about EI in the workplace found that it also strengthens positive work attitude, altruistic behavior, and organizational commitment.

Organizational Innovation and Change—In today’s business ecosystem, businesses need to come up with strategies that will keep them agile and flexible and allow them to adapt and adjust themselves to the changing needs of the market. An important component to the success of organizational change is employees’ acceptance. One of the practices that draws its ideas from positive psychology is appreciative inquiry (AI). AI seeks to inspire managers and employees to examine problems and change in the organization with a holistic outlook that focuses on building existing strengths. It also places great emphasis on incorporating dialogue, collaborative learning, and participative decision- making into the change process.

Positive Psychology is a fairly new branch in psychology that focuses on the way positive emotions and optimism can affect our state of mind. Froman’s article demonstrates that the therapeutic effects of positive psychology principles remain relevant even when integrated in everyday work processes.

Based on: Froman L., (2009), “Positive Psychology in The Workplace.” Journal of Adult Development 17.2 (2009): 59-69. Print.

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