One of my favorite parts of the movie Monsters, Inc was when Sulley and Mike first discover that laughter is significantly more powerful than screams. The same applies, I believe, to positive versus corrective feedback. [For the purposes of this discussion, positive feedback means I like the behavior and corrective feedback means I don’t like the behavior].
I’m a big proponent of giving feedback as the situation is happening. If a restaurant includes a website on the receipt, I jot down a few notes on the back and log-on at night. If there’s a comment card available at the store, I’ll fill it out. I earnestly feel that feedback is the only thing anybody will ever give you for FREE and has the potential to improve your life. At the very least, all feedback, positive or corrective, has in some form allowed me to gain some new insight about myself or the person delivering the feedback. Even when the feedback was non-illuminating (I already knew via other sources) or wasteful (no value add, cruel, etc) I learned something about the feedback giver - regardless, I learned something and learning = gain. I feel that positive feedback, however, goes the furthest in improving a person’s countenance.
At times, we can get so focused on what we’re not getting, focused on providing corrective feedback (e.g. “Miss, my food is cold”; “Sir, this is not the service that I expected”; “Excuse me, why is this taking so long?”) that we fail to understand how much more powerful positive feedback is to achieving long term behavioral change. How often do we go out of our way to recognize the waiter when he did something RIGHT; even if he was just “doing his job”? How often do we ask to “speak to the manager” to publicly commend the grocery store check-out girl for her expedient processing of your groceries? Personally, I find it more invigorating to look for the good of the event versus the bad.
A simple token of appreciation or notice can profoundly energize (laughter vs. screams). A simple, “hey, you’re doing well” or “I noticed you how you handled this and you did good” and of course, “thank you” can fundamentally alter the mood of your and the receiver’s day.
Special thanks for Justin for taking time out of his day to say “good job”.
What is the difference between being comfortable versus being complacent? I have no idea, so I challenge myself. Challenge my thinking, my parenting, my husband-ing; attempt to challenge my assumptions and my understanding of things. I won't get it right all the time so I welcome all constructive feedback. The goal? To "...be satisfied with life always but never with one's self." (George Jean Nathan)