It seems everywhere you turn, something terrible is happening in the world and you can’t help but let it affect you. What was once curiosity has now turned into full-fledged ruminating and you start feeling powerless and sad about the tragedies occurring around the world. Not only is your mood shot, but the bad news is making your performance at work go downhill, too. Don’t worry, because there is hope. We’ll discuss three techniques to help you deal with bad news more constructively so that it doesn’t ruin your mood or, worse, your career.
Earlier this year, The Happiness Advantage author Shawn Achor, positive psychologist Michelle Gielan, and Arianna Huffington conducted a study that examined the effect that news (bad and good) has on a person’s well-being and performance over time.
The study examined 110 participants. Half were shown three minutes of negative news stories, while the other half were shown “stories of resilience.” All participants watched their clips before 10 a.m., and were asked to answer follow-up surveys six to eight hours later. The group that watched the negative stories were 27% more likely to characterize their day as unhappy.
The reason for this is known as “learned helplessness,” or “the belief that our behavior doesn’t matter in the face of challenges,” according to Michelle Gielan, who is a CBS News journalist turned UPenn positive psychology researcher and bestselling author of Broadcasting Happiness.
What does this have to do with work performance? Everything, apparently. Gallup’s research into the matter found that emotional well-being is undoubtedly linked to work performance.
“Employees who report experiencing a greater balance of positive emotional symptoms over negative emotional symptoms received higher performance ratings from supervisors than employees who report feeling more negative than positive symptoms of emotion,” reports Gallup.
It makes perfect sense that bad news would put you in a bad mood, which, in turn, would cause you to become distracted or unable to focus on your work, thus decreasing your productivity, whereas good news would do the opposite.
Now that you are aware of the negative effects of bad news, how do you prevent it from affecting your day, your life, and your career? Here are three ways:
1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If it’s the world’s problems that have got you down, then turn off news alerts on your phone and your email, because, in this case, ignorance is bliss. If you lessen your chances of being exposed to bad news, then you lessen your chances of the bad news affecting your mood and performance throughout the day. Therefore, unplug from news outlets and social media for a bit and see if that doesn’t cheer you up a bit.
2. Focus on the Positive
Bad news is what it is, so instead of letting it eat away at your well-being, try to find the positive in the situation. For instance, if you received some less-than-stellar feedback about your work, then don’t wallow in your misery and make matters worse. Instead, chalk it up as a learning experience and now you know how to improve for next time. There’s no use in staying in a dark place, emotionally, when you have all the power in the world to change that for yourself.
If you simply can’t seem to shake the bad news and the negative feelings it’s causing, then maybe it’s best that you step away from the situation so that you can take a break and regroup. Sometimes all you need is a breath of fresh air, change of stimuli, and some soothing music to help you get back on track. If you’re having a bad day and looking for some ways to turn that frown upside down immediately, then try these five techniques or these three techniques and see if you can’t end the day better than you started it.
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