Think about a relentlessly positive coworker in your life – a person who consistently presents themselves this way as a friend or colleague. They are supportive, quick to laugh and ready to assist with anything you need without being asked to do so.
Do have one of these people in your life? If so, is it even possible to quantify their value?
Consider the atmosphere change when they simply walk into the room. Smiles erupt, conversations begin, and laughter is the order of the day. Regardless of the circumstances prior to their arrival, everything changes when they arrive.
These people are of particular value in high-stress jobs like 9-1-1.
They are our positive pillars.
Ask virtually any person who has worked in the field, and they will greedily tell you about a positive pillar who influenced them when they most needed it. This person may have been their trainer or supervisor. Maybe a coworker or two. In every case, you’ll hear about similar characteristics: selfless, good natured and unfailingly kind.
It only takes one positive pillar to fundamentally impact others’ experience in an atmosphere that so often needs this very thing.
When you work with someone who exemplifies these characteristics, it certainly feels like you’re better for it.
Research confirms you are.
Breaking Down Coworker Positivity: The Benefits
A Harvard study by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy Smith, and Bradley Layton shows that high levels of social support [support that positive coworkers provide daily] predicts longevity as reliably as regular exercise does.
The relationships that are a direct result of positive behavior also have measurable benefits. A 75-year Harvard study which closely followed 724 participants came to a clear conclusion: Genuine connection caused by emotional uplift is directly proportional to our happiness and our long-term health.
According to Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people with a positive attitude overcome difficulties more quickly and are more resilient.
These findings are not particularly surprising, but they go a long way toward proving the value these positive pillars provide to their coworkers.
And to themselves.
So, it is possible to quantify their value.
Working any job is a better experience when you work with a positive coworker, and working in a high-stress job can be literally transformed.
The Quiet MVPs in Your Comm Center
If you haven’t done so in a long time (or ever), recognize and acknowledge your positive pillars. Whether they are line-level, trainers, supervisors or above, they are the difference makers in your comm center. They help determine your culture. They also serve as your greatest deterrent against the negative influences so often attempting to steer the ship over a cliff.
In comm centers who don’t have peer support teams or other more official avenues of mentorship or support, these are the folks unofficially doing that work for you. They reach out without being asked. They check on their coworkers to make sure they’re ok. They offer a helping hand or humor when someone is in need.
When new employees start their training, these are the folks who go out of their way to welcome them, to check in on them and to assure them that they will make it and that they have what it takes to excel.
Relentlessly positive people do these things as a matter of habit. It’s who they are at their core.
They are invaluable.
Chances are, if you are a leader in your center, these are the folks you think about the least. They do their jobs quietly and without fanfare, and they aren’t responsible for the sorts of ripples that call attention to them. They do great work – but their greatest impact is on the people that work with them.
Make it a habit to see them. Notice what they’re doing if you haven’t. Send them an email or pull up a quick chair next to them. Let them know that you see them, and that your comm center is better because they work there.
Take the time to thank your positive pillars. They are literally making the hard-working professionals in your comm center healthier and happier.
They are, truly, the best of us.
About Kris Inman:
Kris Inman is the Director of Program Development for The Healthy Dispatcher. A 29-year veteran of 9-1-1, Kris retired in July 2023 as Director of Springfield Greene County 9-1-1 in Springfield, MO. An awarded speaker and instructor, Kris has delivered standout educational sessions, keynotes, motivational talks and yoga instruction to dispatchers across the country. He is also a long-time college adjunct instructor, teaching courses in communication and public safety leadership. Kris holds a Master of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Media from Missouri State University. He is also a registered yoga instructor.