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  • Josh Vaisman

“You Rock!” – Niceties Don’t Just Feel Good, They Do Good

Updated: Sep 6, 2018






Martin Seligman, the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, developed an elegant scientific model for well-being called PERMA. A key component of what Seligman calls, “the Good Life,” is living (and working) with a sense of meaning. Remember when mom would say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Turns out mom was on to something there.


Remember when mom would say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Turns out mom was on to something there.

The results of a recent study led by researchers at prestigious business schools such as Harvard and the University of Michigan should have mom jumping for joy. In one experiment the researchers took people before they were about to join a work team and divided them up. The experimental group went through an exercise in which their “best selves” were positively affirmed by way of, for example, receiving and/or giving narratives highlighting their positive traits. The researchers theorized, among other things, that this “pre-team-forming” positive affirmation would help break down the walls of “needing to be accepted” and create a sense of psychological safety. The control group did not receive the pre-team-forming positive affirmation. Days after this activity all teams were put through a work related “crisis simulation”.


The results were impressive; even when controlling for variables such as age, team size, background, etc., the teams who had experienced the positive affirmations significantly outperformed the teams that had not.

The results were impressive; even when controlling for variables such as age, team size, background, etc., the teams who had experienced the positive affirmations significantly outperformed the teams that had not. Based on this and other similar experiments they determined hearing about our unique contributions, strengths, and talents in the workplace can significantly increase the sense of purpose and meaning we find in our work.

Get Inspired


With that, here’s our proposal for an updated version of mom’s great mantra; “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say something nice anyway. The whole team will benefit!”


How can you put this research to work in your veterinary hospital today?


- written by Josh Vaisman

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