Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln say imagining a positive co-worker can give your work performance a boost and make your worldview more positive.

The study, which asked participants to envision imaginary co-workers through a series of hypothetical situations and then rate their characteristics, found that what (or whom) a person imagines says a lot about the way he or she views other people as well as oneself.

“When you make up imaginary peers, they are completely a product of how you see the world,” said lead author Peter Harms. “Because of that we can gain better insight into your perceptual biases. That tells us a lot about how you see the world, how you interpret events and what your expectations of others are.”

The participants who imagined positive co-workers were found to be happier and more productive in their real-life work.

Harms believes the imagining technique is helpful because it strips away the unique relational baggage workers may have with the people they know. What the researchers call “projective storytelling” can also lead to positive outcomes in one’s work life.

“We’ve known that workplace relations are a self-fulfilling prophecy for some time,” Harms said. “If a manager believes that their workers are lazy and incompetent, they will elicit those patterns in their employees. It’s hard to be motivated and enthusiastic for someone you know doesn’t think of you very highly. But most people don’t want to disappoint someone who sincerely believes in them.”

Source: PsychCentral

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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