Posted March 05, 2013 by

7 Ways to Put on a Happy Face at Work–and Smile All the Way to the Bank

Vicky Oliver

Vicky Oliver

Having an infectious smile and putting some zip in one’s step doesn’t just make work life more fun. Being happy at work is also a career booster.

A study of recent MBA hires found that optimistic people get hired more quickly than their less-optimistic peers. What’s more, two years into the job, these happy workers were more likely to have been promoted. (Here’s a link.)

Being happy on the job improves your reputation. Optimism also makes you more resilient, able to adapt to new situations, and solve problems faster. Happy employees get better feedback from bosses and peers. And they enjoy more job satisfaction because work doesn’t feel boring, difficult, or unpleasant.

Is it possible to become a more optimistic employee, and to be happier at your job? You bet! Here are 7 ways to do it.

Wear your metaphorical “rose colored glasses” to work.
For every disappointment, find a lesson. Try to see a positive aspect in situations that don’t turn out the way you intend. For example, maybe you didn’t get the job, but you got your foot in the door at the company, making it easier to go back next time. Maybe you didn’t talk to the most important person at the cocktail party, but you talked to the second most important person.

Pepper your language with upbeat words and phrases.
Words have a powerful, subliminal effect on others’ moods and impressions. Bosses and coworkers love dealing with pleasant, positive people. It’s easy to jazz up routine exchanges by adding words that convey a happy mood and upbeat energy. So, “I’d be delighted to” is much better than “Sure.” And, “That’s a stupendous assessment,” is better than “Good job.” Other “happy” words: excited, charged up, thrilled, happy to, looking forward, love it, and you bet. Super, terrific, fantastic, amazing, incredible, and brilliant are some more.

Give yourself a daily pep talk.
Write down 10 statements you’d tell your best friend if she suffered a career setback. For example, “You did the best you could,” or “Mistakes are great ways to learn.” When you don’t get the praise you deserve from an irascible boss, tell yourself, “That’s his problem, not mine.” Remind yourself at least once a day what a good job you’re doing.

If you feel a complaint coming on, zip it.
Complaining makes you feel worse, and it makes others around you feel worse too. Just as happiness is contagious, so is negativity. If you can’t figure out a way to say something constructive about a problem or challenge, then keep quiet. People who act positive are perceived as being positive. Even pessimists prefer optimists. Acting cheerful in the face of challenges will do great things for your career and professional reputation.

Make use of “secret” mood boosters.
Let’s say you’re headed to work and the first thing you’ll have to do is do a scary presentation in front of your boss and team. Find an anthem that really puts you in a mood and charges your emotional batteries. Listen to it over and over as you’re heading to work. Sounds corny, but it works. Another mood booster that no one has to know about is a good luck charm or accessory. Anything from a lucky suit to the lucky pen you always sign contracts with can work if they make you feel secretly successful.

When you feel blue, take a “play” break.
If you’re in a bad mood at work, don’t get down on yourself. Instead, take a break for a few minutes and play a lighthearted game you’re really good at, such as kenken, a crossword puzzle, or an app game like Wordogram. This has three benefits. First, it distracts you from your negative mood. Second, it’s play and it’s fun–which puts you in a better mood. And third, it enables you to enjoy a moment of triumph, a small win.

Give compliments and avoid complainers.
When you notice a coworker doing something well, tell her what a great job she did or how much you admire her. Compliments and praise bounce back. Soon you’ll be getting positive feedback too. On the other hand, avoid people who make you and others feel bad. If you see a chronic complainer headed your way, tactfully duck into the restroom or politely excuse yourself.

Vicky Oliver (http://www.vickyoliver.com/) is the author of five bestselling books on personal branding, etiquette, and career development, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions and her latest, The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire Even If You’re Not. She’s a leading career adviser and image consultant in Manhattan.

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