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Change your Mind–Change your Office

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in Workplace Relevance for the Successful Admin

I hate going to the dentist. Even though I get my teeth cleaned twice a year and have dental work done at times, I dread every visit, especially my most recent one. After a move last September, I found a new hair stylist, new doctor, mechanic and favorite coffee shop right away … but the dentist, I saved him for last.

When I finally went in for a cleaning he clucked his tongue over two crowns a rouge dentist had put in six years ago. I had to get them replaced, he said while adding, “Hopefully, I can save the teeth.”

Imagine how anxious I was going in the next week for the procedure. As always, it took three shots of Novocain to numb me. Where most people get numb on one, three shots and 45 minutes of waiting barely does the trick for me.

Three hours later, he finished and told me I had to wear a temporary for three weeks to see if the teeth “settle down.” If not, I’d have to get a root canal. Even so, the dentist was wonderful and I completely trusted his skill.

Three weeks went by. My teeth behaved, so I went in to get my new crowns placed. Following that appointment with a dentist I now trusted, I was headed to the beach for vacation with family. EFAM was behind me (IAAP’s major conference) and I was going to avoid a root canal. Life looked rosy.

He had to numb me to place the crowns. Within 15 minutes my lip felt fat and I was completely numb. More numb than with three shots and in less than half the time. My new dentist swore he hadn’t changed a thing. Instead, he said, I had—leaving me mystified.

He said the state of my mind allowed the Novocain to work.

No kidding. He had dental studies to back it up. He said that I was so extremely anxious before, but I wasn’t this time. He sees it over and over in his dental practice.

I’m fascinated by how the state of our mind can make that big of a difference. Think about your job for a minute. Can the state of your mind and your perceptions make a difference in your daily job experience? Absolutely. It’s evident if someone is angry, frustrated, anxious or feeling incompetent. And what do you typically do in response? Avoid that person at all costs, which makes healthy communication in the workplace difficult.

How can we change the state of our mind, and begin tackling this larger issue of changing our perceptions to make our work lives better? I have one simple technique, which will help you create a more positive work environment. It will cost you about $3 and five minutes a day:

  1. Purchase a pack of index cards.
  2. Identify the problems you’re encountering at work.
  3. Write positive affirmations to counter the problems.
  4. Flip through the cards every morning before work.

This method will benefit you at work by changing the state of your mind through reevaluating and changing the lies that you typically tell yourself.

For example, let’s assume you write: My co-workers think well of me.

You’ve written this because you’ve gotten the impression that they’re plotting against you behind the water cooler. Even if they’re not, that’s your perception. By repeating to yourself several times a day that your co-workers think well of you, you’re going to change the way you input data about their behavior.

Last week you might have seen someone rushing by in the hall and thought, “She’s trying to avoid me.” After changing the state of your mind, you may begin to think, “She’s probably swamped. I’m going to ask if she needs help.” Actions such as this will positively alter the way your coworkers interact with you. They will think well of you.

By changing your thoughts, you change your behavior and you change the way you approach the people who work in your office. I view it as practical magic.

Try it today. Trust me, if nothing else, it makes for less anxiety and a quicker visit at the dentist’s office.

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