William Liao

August 19, 2021

Toxic positivity

Over the last year or so, many of my friends, family, and colleagues have heard the following remarks at work:

“Why can’t you be more positive? “

“Can you show your face please?”

And my favorite: “why aren’t you smiling more?”

There’s this strange phenomenon going on where some companies and team members expect their employees and team mates to curate and offer up only the happiest and most positive parts of ourselves. 

And it’s exhausting

Here’s the thing: we are not happy all the time. We are not positive all the time. 

This doesn’t mean we’re bad or damaged, it just means that we’re human

If you’re in a headspace where you can be positive and smile, that’s great! 

If you’re not — that’s perfectly okay to. 

You don’t owe anyone a smile.

You don’t owe anyone a positive remark. 

There is no shame — I repeat, no shame — in not being in the mood to do either. 

Reality check: we bring our whole selves to work. 

The sooner this is understood, the better off our culture, our teams, our companies, and our work will be.