Tell Me Something Good

Tell me something good about today, right now.

Ready… Go!

Anyone who has worked with me over the last five years has heard this. Nowadays, people start thinking of something good as soon as I enter the room. It’s fun to watch, really. It probably sounds silly when I ask the same thing every day, but there is a reason.

I want people to stop for just a moment to think of one positive thing, and it doesn’t have to be about work. Maybe you finally paid off the car, or your sister graduated from college, or it’s your anniversary – if so, you probably shouldn’t be at work. I get answers that often tell me something I never knew about the person. I also get the silly, the bizarre, and sometimes just plain fun – and that counts. Some want to give me an entire string of good things, but I limit them to only one so they can save something for tomorrow. It’s obvious when they have something good to talk about, and I’m lucky to hear about it. I respond, I congratulate, I agree, and then, and this is the important part, I wait to hear the next thing that comes out of their mouths.

Asking this silly question gives me the chance to connect on a personal level and start a conversation with people who generally won’t engage with their leadership without a darn good reason. I could walk down the passageways and hear all sorts of greetings, but 95% of the crew would let me walk right on past them, even if they really need to talk to me. It’s often a question about our current events, concern about pay, a career question, or sometimes a request to talk to me later behind a closed door.

I’ve worked in some pretty negative environments over the years, and it was no fun. I don’t want to work in those places anymore, and I have a responsibility to make sure I’m not forcing people into that kind of environment for no good reason. So, the experiment a few years ago was to see what would happen if I asked about good things, and what I received in return were great things.

I got people taking a moment out of their day to tell me something positive, a chance to engage and let them ask me questions in return. I also had a chance to identify people who needed a little help when they had nothing good to say a few too many times in a row.

The best part is when one of those young men or women asks me to tell them something good in return. It brightens my day and allows me to share something I want to talk about, be it a new program, new restaurant in town, or just the fact that I’m out to sea with them. It’s important for them to know that I’m doing my part to stay positive as well.

A couple weeks ago, someone came up to me and said that he hadn’t seen me come around lately asking for anything good. That was a great reminder that something as simple as a question can make a real difference, and that people want to talk about the good things in their personal and professional lives. They just need an avenue to do it sometimes.

For those of you in leadership positions, I’m not telling you to go around asking my silly question, but it is important for you to figure out the best way to connect with your people in a positive way that allows you to interact.

So, go ahead. Hit the comment button and tell me something good about today.

I’ll start: 2015 was a great year for the Day Job series, especially because I get to share it here. 2016 is going to be even better.

Have a great week out there, and please be safe.
Happy New Year.

– JT

Day Job Final_Web


James Tinker

About James Tinker

James was born and raised in Bangor, and left home at 18 for the Navy. Twenty-five years later, he retired as a Command Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank on a warship in San Diego. His popular blog series, The Day Job, shares personal and professional lessons learned through his career.