50% of Your Emotional Vocabulary is Negative

It’s easy to slip into the dark while grappling with performance issues and people problems.

Nagging problems corrode optimism.

Capacity for negative:

Leaders have opportunity and capacity to become negative. Some have inclination.

“Half of all the words that people produce from their working vocabulary to express emotion are negative. And 30 percent are positive and 20 percent are neutral.” Robert Schrauf

Only one of our six basic emotions is universally positive; happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise. This doesn’t mean we experience all emotions equally. It speaks to capacity.

A twice a day project:

Twice a day I intentionally bring praiseworthy things to mind, when I walk and at 3:00 p.m. But there’s a knot in my brain.

Praiseworthy thinking begins with choosing a context. I can’t come up with praiseworthy thoughts out of the blue.

Think of three praiseworthy attributes, attitudes, or behaviors for the people listed below.

  1. Poor performers.
  2. Team members you like.
  3. Team members you don’t like.
  4. Upper management.

It’s desperate if you can’t think three praiseworthy thoughts about everyone on your team. (List of 15 praiseworthy behaviors.)

Tips for praiseworthy thinkers:

  1. Deal with performance issues. Don’t ignore them. Think about praiseworthy things before bringing up negative concerns. For example, think about things you respect about the person you’re about to speak with.
  2. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Twice a day, think praiseworthy thoughts and keep them to yourself. This is for you.
  3. Continue expressing gratitude, recognizing improvement, and honoring success when you see it.


Everyone who develops their leadership knows what they’re working on. If you can’t name something, you aren’t developing.

Last week, I worked on intentional kindness. I learned more from failure than success. It was a fiasco. This week I’m developing praiseworthy thinking. (It’s only thinking.)

What shifts for you when you think praiseworthy thoughts about others? 

What leadership behavior are you working on?