AmeriCorps This Week #24

Planting Your Forestamericorps-logo

“If you keep spitting negative seeds, you’re going to walk in an awful ugly forest one day.”

This piece of wisdom was offered by communication specialist Dr. Susanne Gaddis, Certified Speaking Professional at the Red Carpet Awards for Workforce Development Professionals this week. The event celebrated the accomplishments of the Capital Area Workforce Development team and fittingly included a presentation by Dr. Gaddis on the power of positive communication. She used a combination of humor, storytelling, and scientific research to create an inspirational guide for how we should navigate our day-to-day conversations.
In particular, Dr. Gaddis highlighted how often we let negativity into our lives without realizing it. With every word and action that we release into the world, Dr. Gaddis acknowledges we are either building our relationships up or tearing them down. We are planting “seeds” that will transform and grow into our social landscape. Furthermore, because our behavior stems from thought, it is important to monitor and adjust our thinking so that we are projecting our best selves out into the world. In fact, Dr. Gaddis cited psychological research stating that for every one negative thought, we actually need three positive thoughts to counterbalance the negative emotional energy.
With this information in mind, it is easy to see how we can fall into the trap of spitting these negative seeds. Frustration with a client can turn into criticism. We may blame a customer for their inability to secure a job after months of trying. Also, the often disheartening process of navigating the social services system can leave us feeling jaded or cynical about the work that we do. It is important to reflect on these negative seeds and to balance them out with positive thinking.  Dr. Gaddis recommended that communicating specific things we appreciate about people and the impact they have on us can be incredibly beneficial in this regard. For instance, you may think, “This person has done all the right things and still hasn’t gotten an interview. There is no hope.” You can balance out this frustration by telling the client, “You know, I’m really proud of you for being so diligent about your job search. Keeping track of the applications you’ve sent out and checking in with employers shows how organized you are and is definitely going to pay off in the long run.”
Whether we plant these positive seeds through an honest conversation with a team member, a supervisor, or individual research, we can take control of the energy that we put out into the world and in turn comes back to us. We all deserve to walk in a beautifully diverse forest some day!

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