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The downside of hyper-positivity at work

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16.09.2021

The other day, I read a tweet in which someone asked if positive people are more successful than others, or if being positive leads to more success. It’s an interesting question, not because it has an answer, but because it contains a common assumption: that success and positivity are necessarily correlated. Amidst all the happy face emojis and exclamation points punctuating mundane sentences with false familiarity, how often do people ask if all that positivity is, well, positive?

I define hyper-positivity as the overuse of emojis, exclamation points, and adjectives like “excited,” adverbs like “tremendously,” or business-world cliches like “reach out” in a way that creates a disingenuous tone in writing. It also refers to individuals who use emotive patterns of speech and presentation of ideas to the point they become tiring to interact with.

Generally, hyper-positivity in relation to the workplace can devalue reasoned positive values and actions. Everything becomes upbeat—happy, happy, happy—and this can generate suspicion or distrust among those who don’t really see the world that way or who bring a strongly analytical perspective to what they do. Part of the reason that some people respond to this hyper-positivity negatively is that they feel familiarity and trust need to be earned—they are not products of positive words or attitudes, but of time working together and recognition of shared........

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