Marcial Losada has looked at how people communicate, finding those groups that flourish have 3 positive statements to every negative statement. How does your group measure up? Here are some details to check out:
Positive statements are those where “speaking showed support, encouragement or appreciation”.1
Negative statements where when “the person speaking showed disapproval,… sarcasm, or cynicism”.1
A normally performing group will have a 2.5 ratio, but you need more than that to flourish. There needs to be a lot more positives to overcome the negatives. But there’s more-
The extra positive communication allows the group:
(a) broader behavioral repertoires,
(b) greater flexibility and resilience to adversity,
(c) more social resources,
(d) optimal functioning. 2
Negative communications do play a role, keeping people from being more optimistic than is warranted with a P/N ratio of over 11. 1 probably leading to trouble.
Losada also notes that individuals in groups who do well spent as much effort advocating concepts as inquiring about them. Lower performing groups spent more time advocating.1
Further, individuals in higher performing groups spent equal efforts talking about themselves as well as others. Lower performing groups spent more time talking about themselves.1
While not needing to take the time to count and categorize every sentence in your community, these do offer a good way to develop a rule of thumb at looking at a community.
So how do we improve our group?
Precise intervention seems to be a sophisticated matter which Lasado calls Meta Learning. However, he does offer some quick ideas:
Balance advocating and inquiry.
Balance the internal with the external
Keep positive to negative comments between 3 and 11 to 1.
For every one disconnected individual have three connected. 3
Having some quantitative number to shoot for, even if in practice is done more rule of thumb, is quite powerful.
1. “The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamics Model” Marcial Losada and Emily Heaphy American Behavioral Scientist.
3. See Lasada’s comment in “Increasing Profit: How Far Should an Executive Go?” R Quinn Creating and Sustaining Positive Organizations