The Happy/Sad technique

The Happy/Sad technique is a truely superb one to begin using with children when they are very young. All you have to do is listen to them at bedtime as they answer the questions “Tell me one thing you have felt happy about and one thing that you have felt sad about” and you let them tell you without interruption or judgement or much more than a quiet acknowledgement that you have heard what they have told you. Sometimes they will want to hear your answers to the same questions.

This is a pattern to build on and continue to use for the whole of life. One man, who worked in the corporate sector and who led a team of people modified this technique slightly after learning about it as a parent. At his team’s daily morning meeting before they all went out and did whatever they were paid to do, he asked each person to share one thing that was going well for them and one thing that was not going well. He reported back within a week that team morale had soared and sales had increased. As the leader he had also learnt a huge amount about where his skills were needed to assist his valuable people or where improvements were needed in the work environment. He was sold on the idea.

People of all ages need to feel listened to and heard. They need to know that their feelings can be trusted and respected. Our positive and negative feedback can provide critical information both in terms of our relationships and how life is in the particular part of the world we currently inhabit. We all need to be able to self reflect and tap into our inner knowing but also to learn from our feelings and experiences and to know that they are of value to a bigger picture.

When things are particularly tough for people shifting the focus to at least one thing that is going well or that makes them feel happy can help lift flagging spirits.

Try it around the table together.

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