The Virtues of Being Optimistic

In the contact center environment, being optimistic is a significant benefit. Because of the many people our agents come in contact with, having a predisposition to believe you can solve each customer’s concern or provide a relevant product or solution is important. We use various methods to identify potential agents with this aptitude.  I found this article on recent studies on optimism by Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D to be an interesting opinion on the value of being optimistic in one’s outlook. As Dr. Sharma points out, optimism spills over into many areas of one’s life.

Optimists not only have a lower risk of depression during their lifetimes, but have better overall health and coping skills compared with pessimists.  Optimism, hope, and personal control seem to go together.

Optimists seem to develop a sort of immunity from depression because they are less likely to blame themselves for misfortunes in their life.  I know skeptics will say that such an optimism will prevent one from assuming responsibility for one’s behavior.  On the contrary, optimists are observed to be prudent, realistic, and highly attentive to their health and safety.

He goes on to cite research that points to optimists having healthy eating habits, being less dependent on alcohol and tobacco and possessing a tendency to rest and take care of themselves when sick. These habits are all positive one’s to have, especially in a contact center environment where you interact with many people throughout the day.

As one involved in sales for much of my career, I understand the importance of optimism in achieving success and in getting through a dry spell. Our sales cycle is often several months long as relationships are strengthened, cultural fit is confirmed and details negotiated. As Sharma states,

To nurture optimism is to nurture hope, altruism, and inner strength. Optimists can persevere in face of obstacles and hardships, perhaps, telling themselves, “I know it will get better.”

In our company, we have a practice of sharing principles based on experiences or revelations we have personally noted. It seems optimists have an edge there as well. The article points to research by psychologist Nolen-Hoeksana of the University of Michigan.  That study found 56% of optimists who lost a loved one reported finding something positive in the loss.

Some felt they learned to value their relationship even more.  Some learned to be more patient.  It appears that when life hands out the proverbial lemon to optimists, they make lemonade of it.

Sharma concludes the article by encouraging optimists to ignore the naysayers,

Therefore, if someone tells you that optimists live in a fool’s paradise, don’t let it stop you from making a “fool” of yourself.  For you know that the one who thinks, “things will work out and I will work my way out,” wins.

It is refreshing to see positive confirmation about a way we choose to act every day. If you would like to read the entire article, enjoy. Meanwhile, I am going back to work, because something wonderful is going to happen today. I just know it.


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