We all need time to unplug and recharge. Research shows that disconnecting — especially from email — can make us significantly less stressed and more productive. And yet, many of us are often hesitant to take the first step — putting up an appropriate out of office (OOO) message that sets clear boundaries for our time off. I’ve personally always battled a fear that an OOO message could have unintended consequences, including being perceived as a “slacker,” or leading to missed opportunities.
But the very thing that many of us don’t wish to do — because we believe it could negatively influence our image or success — can often be effectively used to do just the opposite. OOO messages can be an incredible tool to fuel your success. Using these autoresponders — whether during vacation, a conference, or the big moments in our lives like the birth
Watching someone suffer from stress and burnout — and feeling powerless to help — is an awful experience. But it’s a reality for many married professionals who see their spouses staggering under the weight of constant demands from the office. In our work with professionals at many of the Fortune 100 companies, the question “How can I help my partner de-stress?” has become more common than ever.
It’s an experience I can absolutely relate to, as I recently went through it with my husband, Shawn Achor. We are a married pair of happiness researchers (we are not happy all the time — that’s a disorder!), and we run a business and home together. Last spring, Shawn was pulling triple duty: finishing up the manuscript to his new book, regularly speaking at companies, and being an engaged and wonderful father to our three-year-old son. It was a lot. And
Given that I’m a happiness researcher, you might think I’d strive to help people eliminate unhappiness in their careers. But unhappiness actually serves a crucial function, signaling the need for change, prompting us to switch companies or fields, or even just motivating us to secretly update our resume at home (just in case). Unhappiness is what motivated me to jump from computer engineer to national CBS news anchor to now, happily, a positive psychology researcher.
But here’s the rub: The same unhappiness that can prompt us to look for something that’s a better fit often does not serve us well as we engage in that pursuit. From a scientific standpoint, a positive, optimistic mindset is better fuel for the journey than the dissatisfaction or negativity that got us started on a new path in the first place.
Optimistic thinking empowers us during uncertain times, prompting us to take positive action steps. The
After a talk I recently gave on positive psychology at a large multinational company, a senior leader told me, “I’m going to use this to fuel my team’s success, so I’ve decided to only talk about good things with them from now on.” “That sounds like a terrible idea,” I said (gently). Ignoring problems does not make them go away, and the more we sugarcoat reality, the less people believe in our leadership. And now I have new research to back that up.
My colleagues and I recently conducted a study that shows how to talk about negative events in a way that buffers your employees from the disempowering effects of negative news while also fueling their ability to solve problems.
Previously, an experiment I conducted with Arianna Huffington and researchers Shawn Achor and Brent Furl showed that exposure to just three minutes of negative news can lead to a