How being more positive can make work and personal relationships more successful

As a trained marriage and family therapist and career coach, I’ve spent more than eight years researching what makes some people highly successful – both interpersonally and in business – and others doomed to fail.

I’ve observed this: being more positive in your behaviors and language makes room for far greater success, satisfaction and reward in your life – this goes for your marriage and family life too.

In marriage as in life and work

During my therapy training, I read a fascinating book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  The author, leading relationship expert Dr John Gottman, explains there are particular types of negative interactions that, if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship that he calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These four horsemen “clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.”

I’ve also seen these exact same harbingers of professional disaster in the workplace. Allowed to run unfettered, these Four Horsemen will certainly clip-clop into the heart of your career and professional life with a deadly thud.

Gottman discovered a formula he believes is provable and reliable: to make your marriage successful, you must ensure that there are five times more positive, loving interactions than negative, painful interactions between you and your spouse. If you don’t adhere to this formula, serious unhappiness ensues. And if you dip toward the 1:1 ratio consistently, he says you’re likely to end in divorce. He can watch a couple discuss a problem or conflict for only a few minutes and predict with eerie accuracy if they’ll eventually end in divorce.

Interestingly, I’ve seen the relevance of this positive-to-negative interaction formula in people’s careers and professional endeavors too. Those who are consistently more negative than positive in their communications and interactions suffer from an untimely demise of their career potential.

Why is negativity, versus positivity, so destructive? 

Negativity limits, constrains and tears down. Negativity also tends to escalate, and as it does, it strips away future opportunities for success, self-esteem, trust, confidence, and growth.

Being positive, on the other hand, has the opposite effect – it builds, repairs, and protects. Using positive language and behaviors builds up support structures and creates new roads to solutions and success. It paves the way for a deeper level of human connection, compassion, and creativity.

In fact, I’ve found that concentrating your focus on being more positive as you engage in your professional endeavors achieves the following 10 powerful outcomes:

Being more positive:
  1. Helps you engage with others more effectively and gain support more easily for your ideas and initiatives
  2. Develops you as a role model and someone to “watch,” admire and learn from
  3. Gives you greater positive impact and influence on your culture, your environment and your colleagues – positive language and emotion are magnets
  4. Boosts your “immunity” to negative outside occurrences; you become more resilient and bounce back quicker
  5. Inspires others around you to find the courage to seek and move toward the positive
  6. Strengthens your ability to advocate effectively for yourself and others, which in turn attracts more opportunity for all involved
  7. Paves the way for more collaborative success, rather than crushing competition
  8. Builds your reputation as someone worthy of trust and support
  9. Helps you see possibility where others see only hopelessness
  10. Brings to light your achievements and accomplishments rather than highlighting your failures

In the end, positivity paves the way for growth, and growth breeds success

You might be thinking, “Sure, I know being positive is important, but I can’t seem to shift myself out of my negative thinking, especially with all this bad news around us today.”

If this sounds like you, I’d ask you to think again.  We can change and modify – it’s called evolving. We are able to shift ourselves away from negative, destructive and damaging negative patterns to more positive ones – in our relationships and in our work. I know because I’ve worked extremely hard to create these shifts in myself and in my career, and have seen countless others do the same, to great success.

If you will make the commitment today to engage in more positive behaviors and thoughts in your life and work, I know you won’t regret it.

This article originally appeared on and is republished here with permission.

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is an international career and personal success coach, writer, speaker and leadership developer dedicated to the advancement of women worldwide. Considered a “brave up” expert for professionals, Kathy is the author of Breakdown, Breakthrough,  and Founder of Ellia Communications, Inc., the Amazing Career Project and Amazing Career™ Coach Certification training.  Kathy is also a Forbes, Huffington Post and LinkedIn contributor, TEDx speaker, and top media source on careers, women at work, leadership, success and personal growth, For more info, visit and connect with Kathy on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn and YouTube.


  • Valerie dehart
    Posted September 28, 2017 2:29 pm 0Likes

    Hello Everyone,

    My name is Valerie I am 46 years old I have a daughter and 2 grandsons. A lot of people might say that I’m too old to start a career of my own, but the truth is you are never too old to learn and higher your education. It may have taken me a while to figure out where I wanted to be in life, but at least now I know. I am currently an online student at Colorado Tech University aiming to get my masters in the science of psychology. I have just finished my first month of school with my first class a grade point average B- I have wanted this for a long time now and I am aiming high for that success. Kathy has truly inspired me, she is GREAT.

    • Kaitlin Vogel
      Posted September 29, 2017 9:43 am 1Likes

      Hi Valerie,

      That’s amazing, good for you! You are 100% right that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. Good luck and keep up the great work!

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