Emotional Tone: How your level of Positivity Impacts Your Success

Emotional Tone

Subscribe to the PODCAST of the “Great Managers® MasterClass”

Great Managers® MasterClass on iTunes  Subscribe to the Great Managers® MasterClass on Android     Subscribe to the Great Managers® MasterClass RSS Feed

Have you ever worked with a person who was always in a bad mood or negative?

What impact did that have on you? Can you describe the impact it had on the rest of your team…..and what about the impact it had on your results?

Emotions play a huge role in our daily lives and they are so infectious that it is CRITICAL that you understand the impact of Low “Emotional Tone” in your organisation and most importantly, what you can do about it!

This Month’s Masterclass focuses on moving mood and emotion into a positive register – is it possible and if so, HOW do you increase the emotional tone of your team?

← Back To Blog




Hello everyone and welcome to the Great Managers® MasterClass and Mentoring webinar. It's Sandra here with you and we'll start today with our purpose of these MasterClass webinars.

They're all about providing you with new information, engaging with you, and interacting, so I'm hoping that lots of you are ready to have a chat today at the end of our MasterClass. It's about answering your questions and it's all about supporting you in your learning.

So the thing that I like about these MasterClasses, we have people from all sorts of different organizations that come on and you can all learn from each other and support each other in the learning as well. So let's get started on our MasterClass today.

Welcome to the Great Managers MasterClass on positive performance and how to develop a high emotional tone in your business.

What I'm going to show you in this MasterClass will:

  • Help you understand the link between emotions and results
  • Give you some strategies to increase the emotional tone in your team and business.

In our session today I'm going to cover three things.

  1. The research on the link between emotions and results ...
  2. The impact and the energetic calibration of emotions, why some emotions are more powerful than others.
  3. Moving mood and emotion into a positive register. Is it possible, and if so, how do you increase the emotional tone of your team?

So a lot of people have asked for this sort of thing. Emotions are one of those things that derail a lot of things at work.

We're going to start with a bit of our own research here. We're going to do a poll. Here we go. Let's do our own research first.

How many of you currently think emotions in the workplace have an impact on the level of performance of the team or organization? So if you'll do that now we're opening the poll.

How many of you currently think emotions in the workplace have an impact on the level of performance a team or organization will achieve? I'll give you a few more seconds to closing off ... five, four, three, two, one. Let's close the poll.

Look at that, one hundred percent of you agree that emotions have an impact on performance. What a high potential group you are ... actually everyone agrees with that. It's interesting, isn't it?

Because I still work with people occasionally who say things like, "Let's leave the emotions out of it," or, "There's no place for emotions in the workplace," so I'm really pleased to see you're way ahead of that kind of mindset.

The reality is that emotions are everywhere.

1. People take their humanity to work every day.

They take their happiness, their excitement, their enthusiasm, as well as their frustration, disappointment, their anger, their sadness and their worries, and also their mood patterns; they take those into work as well. They bring all of themselves into work and this results in emotions at work.

2. People have things going on in their lives.

They have exciting things but they also have difficult things. They might be going through personal problems or have health issues, financial problems, or they might have issues happening in their family.

3. People are continually exposed to a wide variety of potentially arousing stimuli or triggers. ...

We all know that inappropriate or unchecked emotional reactions to such stimuli could impede our fit within a workplace or even with a society. So, people engage in some form of emotional regulation or adjustment a lot of the time.

4. The way people handle emotions is different.

Some people are really sensitive and they take things very personally. You'd be aware if you've got people like that in your team. Other people are quite matter-of-fact and they're much better at compartmentalising emotions. They can put them aside and just get on with what's happening.

So the important thing is to know that emotional regulation is a skill. It's a skill that can be learned and developed at any point in life, and we all have this skill at some level.

Some people are better at it than others. People who are better at it are generally better because they've either learned the skills or they've had really good role models in their life who've helped them with that learning.

So we're going to have a look now at the research on these emotions and what we call positive emotional tone.

The Positivity Ratio

We start with the positivity ratio, and this is ... We use this in the Great Managers program ... We use it in strategy four in relation to giving feedback.

It comes from Barbara Fredrickson's book called Positivity. This positivity ratio which comes from another researcher called Marcial Losada ... can be used in a number of ways, and it's linked with positive emotional states and resiliance or what Fredrickson calls "flourishing". That's what we want. We want our organisations, our teams, to be flourishing.

There's a number of other researchers who use this material. I mentioned Marcial Losada; he actually came up with the ratio itself, mathematically through research, and then he collaborated with Frederickson.

Then there are people like John Gottman and Robert Schwartz who also talk about it as well. Now Lasada's well known for his work in business. Frederickson is well known for her work with individuals and life generally and Gottman's well known for his work in relationships and studying married couples.

Losada's research was done with over sixty teams and he used a whole range of means. He was using video cameras and computers, coding everything these sixty teams did over a period of time, including people's statements, comments to each other, their interactions and all their communication.

The researchers coded all this information into positive and negative categories, and what they found was that in high-performing teams ... and these were high-performing teams that were getting great results in terms of profitability, ratings from customers, evaluations by superiors, peers, and subordinates. So the great results was the evidence.

  • High performance teams 6:1 -  In the high-performing teams, the ratio was six to one. So there was six times as many positive interactions to negatives.
  • Mixed performance 2:1 -  In mixed-performance teams the ratio was two to one. But they also found that at this level it was quite unstable; it could easily slip backwards.
  • Low performance below 1:1 - In low-performance teams it was below one to one. So where teams weren't getting results when they looked at the data associated with their interactions ... It was less than one to one.

All the researchers that I mentioned have found a tipping point of three to one. It's only here at this ratio and above that positivity is in sufficient supply to seed human flourishing and be sustainable. This is why we use it in reference to giving feedback. It's about helping your team flourish but it's also important to be thinking about it in terms of your own emotional state. Are you in a positive state three times as many as you are in negative?

Now it's not possible to be in a positive state all of the time, because we are humans and life will throw things up at us, but it is interesting to know what your current ratio is.

You can actually take the test online. It's called The Positivity Test. You can find out what your ratio is and then you can monitor it over time. I've used this test a lot with leaders I've coached. So you might want to write that link down there or you might even just want to google "positivity test" and that page will come up for you.

So it's not about taking the test every day. It's taking it once a month or something like that and seeing how you're progressing, seeing whether you can lift that ratio. Because what you do matters in your team and if your mood is up in that positive ratio it's more likely that your teams will be as well.

← Back to Blog

Ready to Learn the 7 Essential Skills to Succeed as a Manager? 

Leading and managing people can be challenging if you haven't been taught the right skills.

And after training over 1000 managers, we've discovered that there are just 7 Essential Skills you need to develop to be successful

In this Great Managers® guide, we'll show you what those 7 Essential Skills are and how you can develop them....and it's absolutely FREE.

Give Me Access To The Free Great Managers Guide!


Click Here to Access Your Free Guide
About The Author

Sandra Wood

With over 20 years experience in HR and management development, Sandra has become the advisor businesses, CEOs and managers turn to for advice on developing the leadership capability and people management skills within their organisations to improve business performance.
Sandra is well known as an expert facilitator, trainer and coach, and for her abilities in developing people to get better results. She has trained over a 1000 leaders and is passionate about helping organizations and people achieve their potential to reach higher levels of performance and satisfaction in their roles. She is on a mission to increase the skills of as many managers as possible and believes that the more GREAT Managers there are in the world the better our organizations and economies will perform.