Positive Feedback

by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach

People love to be appreciated. People who feel appreciated by us, tend to treat us a lot better than those who don’t. So, rather than focus on the negative aspects of someone’s behaviour, why not accentuate the positives? It can be far more effective to identify the behaviours that you would like to see repeated and praise the other person for these behaviours. This is what is commonly referred to as ‘positive feedback’. Positive feedback works on a very basic principle; when someone receives praise for a specific behaviour, they are more likely to repeat the behaviour i.e. they want to feel appreciated.

However, when people encounter problems in their relationships, the first thing they tend to do is to moan and complain. Moaning and complaining comes naturally but how much does it really achieve? Complaining requires you to focus on the negative aspects of life, gets you stressed out and rarely leads to any positive change. The person on the receiving end of your complaints rarely appreciates the airing of your views. So, if you really want to see some change in your relationships, why not tackle the problems from another point of view? There will always be times when you’ll need to complain, or make a correction but the frequency of these occasions can be greatly reduced if you choose to identify, and encourage repetition of, the positive behaviours you desire. Positive feedback is very simple to deliver.

The 3 aspects of positive feedback


Remember the purpose of offering positive feedback is to encourage the other person to repeat the behaviour. However, if you do not clearly identify the desired behaviour; how can you expect them to know which behaviour to repeat? So, be as specific as you possibly can be. Rather than just telling someone they have done a good job, tell them exactly what it was about the job which pleased you. Here is a tip which may help:

  • Ask yourself if, following your feedback, they will be able to reproduce the desired behaviour. If you have any doubt, be more specific.

There is no point in offering praise if you cannot be sincere about it. In the modern world, we have become so accustomed to insincerity that we can spot it from a mile away. Insincerity will immediately kill any positive effect of your feedback. You might find the following tip useful:

  • Before you offer your feedback, spend a moment thinking about how you have benefited from the other person’s behaviour and, if possible, tell them this in your feedback.

As stated above, good behaviour should be encouraged and praised. To ensure that it is maintained, positive reinforcement is required. You may know from experience that behavioural change is not always successful upon the first effort. Therefore, it is essential to reinforce the good behaviour with regular positive feedback. Remember:

  • Do not assume that they know you are pleased, tell them. Few people, if any, will ever complain that you appreciate them too much

There will be times when positive feedback is not suitable for the job, but where it is suitable, it is the more positive option, so why not opt for it? If you give it a try, and you are specific, sincere and often with your feedback; you will experience:

  • More of the desired behaviour
  • Less arguments
  • Less stress
  • Better relationships

Positive feedback is an excellent tool based on respect for your own values and the values of others. If you unclear about your values, you can discover them with Values Based Living.

So why not give it a try?

About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.

Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.

Categories: Managing & Leading

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