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Good Job

Positive and negative comments and saying “good job”

Positive and negative comments. One intrigues, while the other makes for sweaty palms.

Something I’ve done for a couple of years now is telling the server at a restaurant “good job" when wrapping up the meal if he or she did good work. Most people are not comfortable with being told or telling someone good job. We aren't used to it. And even making that comment can get some curious glances.

The Harvard Business Review studied the effects of positive and negative criticism. They found the ideal ratio of positive to negative feedback hovered around five. Dr. Gottman of the Gottman Institute found the same in his study of hundreds of married couples.

That means five positive criticisms to every one negative criticism!

One look at comments online or in the typical workplace and you know that's not the usual ratio. It's easy to give someone negative criticism, pointing out where he or she comes up short and where to improve.

One way to offer positive criticism is appreciation, something I've talked about and continue to be drawn to the applications in everyday life.

To revisit: Appreciation = empathy * information * action

Intentional and outward appreciation fosters healthy relationships and puts both parties at ease.

It helps to reach that 5:1 ratio, and true appreciation counters negative criticisms that are so easy to latch onto.

Heaps of praise can be undone by one complaint or outspoken unsatisfied customer.

Waiters and waitresses are undervalued and under-appreciated. Certainly not a position that hits the magical 5:1 ratio. A simple “good job” usually brings a smile to the server’s face, shows recognition of their work, and even boosts my mood. It combines empathy to understand that the work can be a struggle, information to know what to appreciate, and an action to offer the comment.

This week's call to action: try to notice small moments of positivity and create more positive interactions in your day. Do you contribute to building an environment that has a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments/criticisms?