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29 August 2012

The Art of Balancing Positive/Negative Feedback

Posted in Archived

There are times in life when everything falls into place nicely and it becomes what we expect. There are other times when things seem to go wrong at every turn - mistakes are made, deadlines are missed and conflicts occur. It is in these moments we catch ourselves saying 'nothing' ever goes right! So how can we create a balance between the negative and positive?

Starting Point…

If a team member submits an important piece of work on time things keep moving along. Nothing is said because on time is expected. However, if this same team member misses the deadline, it gets addressed by how he/she is putting the project in jeopardy.

Balance is Key

The above example is typical. Positive and negative feedback are both powerful; balancing them makes a big difference in motivating others and achieving results.

Addressing what doesn’t work needs to be done, no question. How it is done is the key. On the flip side, it is of great importance to also acknowledge what is being done right which often times goes unsaid. The negative feedback provided (or lack of positive feedback) can have a significant impact on a person and their brand. Think about it, how do we feel about someone who is always pointing out what is wrong?

Relates to Your Brand

Here are some words I’ve heard employees, peers and outside business partners use to describe leaders during confidential conversations: negative, unsupportive, uncaring, disrespectful, and insensitive.

These are NEVER the brand descriptors chosen by the leaders themselves.

When we provide positive feedback to others, even if it is thanking them for completing a basic task, it changes how they see themselves AND us!

Research Tells Us

Studies reveal that people perform better, have a higher level of engagement and achieve greater intimacy when there is more positive feedback than negative. It is really that simple.

Marcial Losada’s (Director, Center of Advanced Research, Michigan, USA) 1999 study discovered the magic ratio for high performance is five positive forms of feedback to one negative form of feedback.

Notice when you give someone a compliment or acknowledge something they did right their energy shifts and they hold themselves differently? They are suddenly more positive, receptive to giving the extra effort and feel appreciated.

Making a Change

Breaking the cycle of neglecting what works is crucial. Start by simply responding with gratitude for what others contribute. It is through this expression of gratitude – “I appreciate your efforts in submitting your work on time as it is a valuable piece of the project” – that allows for better results.

Constructive and timely feedback when something isn’t right is necessary, though incorporating more positive feedback daily is motivating. The benefit you enjoy is having others willingly extent themselves...priceless!

Here are three quick tips to keep in mind when striving for feedback balance:

  • Increase your awareness of how often your comments are negative. Strive to create a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative comment.
  • Speak up for what is being done right by expressing appreciation and gratitude. Discover the power of reinforcing good behaviours in both your professional and personal life.
  • Share generously and without expectation to produce results beyond what you initially can even imagine.

Incorporating these tips can alter the previous perceptions of negative, unsupportive, uncaring, disrespectful, and insensitive TO caring, compassionate, considerate, positive and empathic. What best reflects your brand?

I’d love for you to share your tips in how you have provided more positive feedback to others.

Align yourself with what matters most to you. Live your brand fully expressed with intention and purpose to play bigger!

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