Postive Work Relationships#6 of a series — More about the Happiness Advantage

Shawn Achor, psychologist and author of “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work“, has some suggestions for us when it comes to building relationships.

Positive relationships in the family business are a factor in both success of the business and level of satisfaction at work.  To read some cold, hard facts that support this notion, see my last post on Social Investment.

To build good working relationships in family business, one must be proactive in making social investments in one another.  Here are some specific things that can be done:

  1. Be enthusiastic in your response to a family member reporting success.  Make specific, positive comments about their success and ask follow up questions like, “How did that work out?“ or “What contributed to the successful outcomes?“
  2. Introduce new hires to all family members and to other employees.  This will help integrate the new hire into the culture and convey to them that they are important, that there are others in the business who have interests similar to theirs.  If one is a fan of a sports club or enjoys a particular sports activity, make the connection so they will have something to discuss in the lunch room.
  3. Outlaw cell phones in all meetings.  Meetings are a time for direct, person-to-person exchange.  Give others the courtesy of your full attention.  Make direct eye contact when you speak to another person.
  4. Listen until the end of each person’s statements.  Don’t be sitting in the meeting thinking about what you are going to say.  If you are focused on what you want to say, you don’t hear what the speaker is saying.  A good technique to let the person know you heard them is to say, “If I understand correctly, you mean….“ Look for the “nod,“ the movement of the head that indicates “Yes, that is right.“  If you don’t get the nod, chances are you didn’t listen well.
  5. Use common courtesy — .“  Good manners are always in fashion and treating a family member with respect goes a long way toward enhancing the relationship. Say please, thank you, and “I really appreciate… Remember this parable:  You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
  6. Express gratitude to family members — It could be gratitude for an opportunity they give to you, for something they have done or for something that brings benefit to all family members.  Gratitude has become more and more scarce as people seem to believe they are entitled, or “owed“ something.

What we have learned in the previous columns on “The Happiness Advantage“ is that happiness is a choice.  Happiness is not something that comes to you from somewhere in the universe.  It comes from within.  It is not about seeking and achieving success and then being happy.  You choose to be happy first.  It is an internal attitude that you elect and it permeates all parts of your life.

Thus, we bring to a close this series on “The Happiness Advantage,“ by Shawn Achor.  His presentation of information is powerful and convincing and, in my opinion, the principles he advocates stand the test of time.  Few persons, on their deathbed are focused on the size of their bank accounts or other “things.“  Most people at that stage treasure the relationships they have had and the people who are important to them.

Achor’s contribution is his passionate insistence that all of us can make the happiness choice.

  1. “The Happiness Advantage“ by Shawn Achor, ISBN 978-0-307-59154-8

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