I was once involved in a corporate study where criticizing and praising were actually tabulated and the reactions measured. Look at what we found: When there was one praising for each criticism, people felt as though they had a totally negative relationship with their boss. When the ratio was changed to two praisings to one reprimand, people still thought their boss was all over them. It wasn’t until we got to a ratio of four praisings to one criticism that people began to feel as if they had a good relationship with their boss.
Think of the power of a reprimand—or even the perception of a reprimand—if one negative word can only be balanced by four positive words. It’s clear that if you as a business leader, coach, or parent don’t start giving a lot of praise, the people you work around will begin to think of you as negative and unfair. Every time you give someone a reprimand, hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to catch that person doing something right four times—and will give them a praising.
I should note that this whole concept can work both up and down the organizational ladder. People can, and should, praise their bosses. And supervisors should be constantly looking for opportunities to praise their people. It’s a two-way street that creates good feelings at all levels. Just as important, it prompts people to want to work harder to be more effective.
So remember, in healthy companies as well as healthy families, there’s a need for four positive interactions for every negative one. Have a great week and praise somebody today!