How many people have you spoken to today?

How many of these people replied “I’m fine” when asked how they were?

Perhaps this response could be a bit of positive psychology taken a bit too far.

A friend made me chuckle last year when he explained to me what I had just said. He suggested to me that “fine” was actually an acronym for “Feeling Inwardly Negative”. This observation tallied with my experiences of many business where pleasantries have turned into a “fixed grin” which masks the underlying feelings of an individual. In a  survey completed by the CIPD, “in the public sector, one in four (25%) workers believe it is likely they will lose their jobs and 63% say stress has increased as a result of the economic downturn, compared to 54% last quarter” (Source).

This type of ‘fine’ response and these statistics create a worrying time in the workplace as authenticity is starting to be hidden as a response to stress. When being authentic, the workforce understands the leaders, and this usually leads to a state of good motivation and morale leading to performance.

Perhaps this type of “fixed grin” response although seemingly little is actually an enemy within which over a period of time devalues achievement and the 2 Ms of motivation and morale. At a psychological level, perhaps this is another program that has now been formed which joins the presenteeism culture (the starting earlier, finishing later) that also is so prominent in some organisations. The “I’ve got to be seen at my desk” which actually is detrimental to personal and therefore organisational performance.

Perhaps a more prudent question to ask when meeting someone is “What is great for you today?” which will engage rather than give a programmed response.

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