Optimal balance of positive & negative


No surprise to many of us… research has now shown that you need to be a lot more positive than negative on teams.

10:1 – Ideal Positive:Negative Balance  

Using a “Capture Lab” researchers saw a strong average correlation between positive language and performance.

  • Low performing teams communicated 1 positive for every 3 negatives – 1:3
  • Medium teams averaged 2:1
  • High performing teams ranged from 6:1 to 11:1
  • Too much positive, 12:1 or more, “calcifies a team”, making necessary change and adaptation difficult.

Sustainable marriages apparently need at least 5 times as many positive emotions regarding one’s partner as negative–5:1

This ratio is yet another reason to use positive change approaches such as Appreciative InquiryPositive Psychology, building on your strengthsSolutions Focus, and Positive Deviance.

BTW, I make no money off these links, but I do make money using these methods in our positive change consulting. We find these approaches not only more effective for our clients, but far more enjoyable for them… and for us!

Explore posts in the same categories: Culture Improvement, Motivation, Solution-focus

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One Comment on “Optimal balance of positive & negative”

  1. Allen Hollander Says:

    Thanks Bob. Good to know these facts. Always interesting to read what you write. Will Phelps did some research on the effect of the bad apple in groups and found that bad has a stronger impact than good (I believe his study was the root of the 5:1 positive to negative ratio you mentioned). He found that the negative behaviors of laziness, destructive/sarcastic comments and the like carried 5X the wollup of positive interactions. Hence 5 make up behaviors to 1 bad one. BTW, This American Life had him on not that long ago. I think the theme for that podcast was “Bad Apples.”


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