Forcing Yourself To Think Positively Can Actually Hurt Productivity

If you’re naturally a pessimist, thinking positively will only hurt you professionally.
In general, most people assume that happier people work better, outperforming their unhappier colleagues, writes Wharton professor Adam Grant in his LinkedIn post.

“We think it’s a good idea to encourage people, but not so fast,” he writes.

Surprisingly, both pessimists and optimists perform at the same rate, but their strategies for attaining success are different. Optimistic people set high expectations and benefit from confidence, whereas pessimistic people set lower expectations but their anxiety and negative thinking push them to try harder, according to a series of studies published in the
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The study says that “positive mood impairs the performance of defensive pessimists.”

“The encouragement boosted their confidence, quelling their anxiety and interfering with their efforts to set low expectations,” Grant says. “When they’re in a good mood, they become complacent; they no longer have the anxiety that typically mobilizes their effort. If you want to sabotage defensive pessimists, just make them happy.”

Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to [email protected]. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.