Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's your Losada ratio?

What's the best way to improve any relationship? 

This is so simple, it's almost mind-blowing. You ready? Here it is:

Say more positive things to the other person.

That's it! Simple, huh?

I'm reading "Flourish" by Martin Seligman. In it, he quotes a colleague, who says:

"We go into companies and transcribe every word that is said in their business meetings. We have done this in sixty companies. One-third of the companies are flourishing, one-third are doing okay, and one-third are failing. We code each sentence for positive or negative words, and then we take a simple ratio of positive to negative statements.

"There is a sharp dividing line... Companies with better than a 2.9:1 ratio for positive to negative statements are flourishing. Below that ratio, companies are not doing well economically."

They call this the Losada ratio.

But you can't be Polyanna about it, either --- a ratio above 13:1 diminishes your credibility.

Think about this. Although they were talking about work groups, why wouldn't this work for personal relationships, too? In fact, there is evidence that marriages break up if that ratio is less than 5:1.

So how do you improve your Losada ratio? Here are a few ideas:

  • Catch people doing things right -- and then tell them about it, preferably in front of others. 
  • Appreciate them at random just for being who they are. (Intermittent feedback has been shown to be more effective than consistent feedback.)
  • Talk about things that are going right for you, instead of whining about what's going wrong.
  • Actively look for the silver lining in the dark cloud, and talk about that. See the opportunities offered by the problems.
  • Express your appreciation for your surroundings.
  • If you're looking forward to something, talk about that. 

You can only change your own communication -- but since we all affect others, you are a role model.  The more positive you are, the more positive others in your sphere will be. And that makes for a much more pleasant world.

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