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Articles by Shannon Polly

Shannon is a facilitator and coach in Washington, D.C. and founder of Shannon Polly & Associates ( She applies positive psychology to leadership development. She has been an assistant instructor in the MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania; is a contributor to the book, Positive Psychology at Work, The European Handbook of Positive Psychology, conducts appreciative inquiry summits across the country and has been a facilitator for the Master Resiliency Training (MRT) program for the U.S. Army. She has also written PPND articles with Louisa-Jewell and with Genna Douglass.

Acting “As If”
June 25, 2015 – 5:00 am | 11 Comments
Playing dress-up

When I facilitate workshops on character strengths, I find that many people immediately focus on the bottom of their lists where their weakest strengths are. We are hardwired with a negativity bias, after all, and it is not a bad thing to want to improve. I frequently get asked, “How can I develop my strengths?” I respond, “Pretend that you have them. Act ‘as if’ you are kind, or forgiving, or curious.“

Three More Ways to Build the Teamwork Strength
December 30, 2014 – 12:33 pm | No Comment

Yesterday, I set the stage with reflections on the teamwork character strength and then explored one way to build this strength. Today I’ll follow up with three more approaches. All of these approaches involve forgetting self-interest and thinking about the group as a whole. Put on your director hat, take that 30,000-foot view, and see what happens. The show doesn’t go on unless everyone pitches in.

Teamwork Levels the Status Playing Field
December 29, 2014 – 9:34 am | One Comment

If you’ve ever been in an artistic production you know that there can be many egos involved. But you also know that the best experiences for both actor and audience occur when people set status aside and do what must be done for the good of the production. Teamwork abounds, with all participants able to see the big picture as well as their places in it.

Struggling with Gratitude
November 5, 2014 – 11:01 am | 13 Comments

If you know that gratitude is good for you but it is still a struggle, how do you work on it?

Workplace Well-Being is Not an Oxymoron
July 2, 2014 – 9:48 am | 3 Comments

New data shows that work engagement is better than usually reported. Workplace bullying needs some active attention. Wellness programs may benefit from sneak approaches, such as using smaller plates in lunch lines. The interface between work and life is smoothest when employers and employees collaborate on the solutions. These are just some of the takeaways from the stimulating Work & Well-Being 2014 conference held on May 30 in Washington, D.C..

How to Command a Room: Suggestions for Positive Presenting
May 27, 2014 – 11:40 am | 26 Comments

I worked as a Yale-trained actor and producer in New York City and then as a leadership development consultant and coach, so I have spent almost 20 years thinking about ways we can augment our ability to command a room. The idea that you either have presence or you don’t is a big myth. Borrowing from actors, there are tangible techniques that you can use to control your anxiety and increase your influence whether you are giving a formal presentation or running a meeting. This article includes an invitation to a webinar tomorrow.

Measuring Happiness at Work
April 10, 2014 – 10:11 am | 13 Comments

In a recent webinar sponsored by Positive Business DC, Jocelyn Davis introduced the audience to the Happiness at Work survey created by Nic Marks. The Happiness at Work survey is freely available online, so you can use it to get a checkup on your own happiness at work compared to other people. Read a quick summary of the presentation by Jocelyn Davis and click through to the recording if you want to know more.

How Love Creates Health
August 13, 2013 – 10:06 am | 10 Comments

Love contributes to health. It doesn’t stop with counting blessings. It’s not abstract. It’s deeply physical. Let’s follow the argument made by Barbara Fredrickson during the IPPA World Congress.

Virtuous Business Practices: An Interview with Dr. Kim Cameron
July 18, 2013 – 11:27 am | 8 Comments

There is a lot of compelling evidence across industries, continents, and sectors that positive and virtuous practices pay off. Organizations make more money, are more productive, achieve higher quality, produce higher customer satisfaction, and create higher employee engagement. Moreover, evidence suggests that these relationships are causal. When virtuous practices improve, organizational outcomes improve as well.

CoreChange Summit: “D” to the Fourth Power
March 12, 2012 – 10:38 am | 4 Comments

This is Part Two of the coverage of the CoreChange AI Summit in Cincinnati covering the 4 D stages. Read comments by local activist Peter Block. See how Cincinnati (home of the VIA Institute) may well make history with plans to create the first ever Strengths-Based City.

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