I've been reading the book, The Happiness Advantage recently and it talks about the benefits of just such an approach to the people in our lives. I started thinking, "What if we as parents and teachers made sure that the ratio of our positive to negative comments to children was at least three to one?" In other words, for every negative comment we made, we followed-up with three positive comments. How would our environment change... or would we even notice?
It turns out that a lot of research has been done on this very thing by psychologist and business consultant, Marcial Losada. Based on Losada's extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to ensure success. Known as the 'Losada Line', the studies show that if you rise above this line (and ideally a ration of six to one is best), then teams produce their very best work. Sounds too easy to be true doesn't it? Focusing on positive interactions and making sure that we provide a positive environment with more encouragement than negativity can just by itself ensure success. This isn't about behavior charts or prizes for behavior, althought those things are often helpful. This is about recognizing that we all perform best when we receive positive recognition for our efforts. We know this is true for adults, but how often do we as adults feel that our job as parents and teachers is to instruct and correct children, but that positive feedback is nice but not really necessary? How often have you heard someone say, "Why do I have to compliment them on good behavior when that is just what they are expected to do anyway?" Turns out we can all figure out why from our own lives... positive feedback is important because we all flourish and perform best in a positive environment. I know I do... what about you?