Want to build a great marriage? Create positive teams that go the duration? Be a better boss, not a bosshole? Turns out there is statistical evidence that creating great results and great relationships, is correlated to the ratio of positive/negative interactions we have with the people around us. Above 3:1 and below 11:1 is trending positive, and right about 6:1 is the sweet spot for professional environments. More than 12:1 in the ratio of positive to negative comments and the praise starts to get a little unbelievable.
For personal relationships you want about 5:1 positive to negative interactions. Maybe because trust is higher in personal relationships. Maybe because we need less constant affirmation from loved ones. Maybe we take more chances in our work, and want greater affirmation that we’re on the right track.
Marcial Francisco Losada conducted studies in which teams of assistants, behind one-way mirrors, observed group discussions and categorized comments made as either positive, negative, or neutral. Later, he drew upon independent metrics of performance, and was able to rank the team’s performance in context of the tenor of the conversations they had. The researchers also measured whether questions were intended to elicit new information or advocate their own point of view. Interestingly, low-performing teams asked very few inquisitive questions, and instead exercised a position of “waiting to talk” instead of actively listening.
Interestingly, on the high-performing teams one person’s inquisitive line of questioning would lead to another’s positivity. That is, if someone in the group made a curious inquiry, another member would react positively toward that line of questioning. Curiosity creates positive interactions.
The take-away is straightforward: build positive interactions into your daily life and good things happen.