Four Quick Tips for a “Can-Do” Culture

Do you know the difference a few words can make in your environment? Whether it’s in the workplace, at home, or with your friends, positive, active communication can have a huge impact in the happiness of the people around you. And it’s FREE!

With my strengths being “Adaptability”, “Positivity”, “Learner”, “Empathy”, and “Connectedness” I am naturally inclined to communicate positively. I am instinctually more positive and am motivated to make others feel positive as well.

However, this skill or inclination doesn’t come easily to everyone. Perhaps one of your strengths is “Deliberative,” and while you are great at making sure every detail is covered, and have naturally good judgment, you are also careful to not give too much praise. Or maybe you have strength in “Focus” and where that can be great for keeping everyone on task, it might inhibit you from automatically taking the time to slow down and acknowledge accomplishments along the way.

And for many of us, our conversations focus around getting right to solutions as quickly as possible. While your analytical or deliberate thinking is a great strength and a needed part of any organization, it can hinder positive communication.

Today I offer you a simple way that you can help your culture be one of “can-do” people who want to work with and for you. I warn you, that while I say this is “simple,” I do not mean easy. For many of you, doing this on a regular basis will take practice, but the ROI for your company culture is there. I promise.

Firstly, you need to be an active participant in any communication you’re having, positive or negative. Most of us are familiar with passive positive communication (whether we are aware of it or not). It consists of the sweeping general positive interactions we have, such as your husband or wife commenting, “That’s nice,” and moving on to another subject after you tell them about your great day of work. It’s the “atta boys and girls”… why bother?

Passive negative communication is a little less obvious, and has a surprisingly large impact on morale. It means essentially ignoring what the other person is communicating to you, and it’s easy to do when you’re busy, focused, or tired. We’ve all had the times when someone told us something, and instead of reacting at all, we gave an “uh-huh” and kept doing what we’re already involved in. This can easily make someone feel like they aren’t important and can lead to them losing interest in communicating with you at all.

Here are four quick tips to consider:

  • Don’t say no, say when. If someone is interrupting work that can’t be interrupted, stop to nicely say, “I’m sorry I am right in the middle of something and I really want to listen to what you’re saying. Would you mind giving me five minutes to finish this, so I can give you my full attention?” Of course, you need to be sure to follow through or you’re still being passively negative.
  • Ask yourself if you need to point out something negative before you do. As leaders, we are working with other people toward a goal, and sometimes it can be easy to gloss over when one hurdle is jumped, by pointing out all the hurdles left in the race. Chances are that your coworker hasn’t lost sight of the finish line, they are just excited about what they have accomplished, and outwardly appreciating that will help them have the energy and motivation to jump the next hurdle, not make them forget it’s there.
  • Be specific. The impact of a general “good job” is very minimal; especially if that is largely what people hear from you. To make this statement active, take the extra time to be specific. For example, when you compliment me on this blog post, think about what part of stuck out to you as especially good, and compliment that, such as, “Good job giving an example of how to be actively positive, I know that will be really helpful when I talk about my team’s progress on Monday.” Adding in this specific lets me know that you took the time to read my blog, and you appreciate what impact it has had, and it will make me excited and energized when I go to write for next week. (Thanks in advance!)
  • Practice. Consider practicing with kids. Want some honest feedback and reaction to your words? Practice with your kids or borrow the neighbors’. When Billy says, “Hey I got an A on my Book Report!” Instead of “Great work.” How about, “That’s great! What did you like most about your report? What do you think made it so successful.”? You might even have a full conversation with an otherwise resistance teenager.


What are some examples of positive, active, communication from your life? The more examples we share, they easier it will be for us all to find a way to fit positive communication into our daily interactions, so please share an example in the comments section.


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