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What is Positive Feedback?

What is Positive Feedback?

Positive feedback is information that tells you that your recent actions have resulted in you making progress towards the achievement of your goal.

In everyday life, we don't normally use the words, "Positive feedback". Instead we use these words: Praise, Compliments, rewards, acceptance, appreciation, progress.

People love positive feedback.

Why is positive feedback important?

Positive feedback is important for at least five reasons.

  1. Positive feedback confirms that you are on the right track. It confirms to you that your plan and actions are working. You are making good progress.
  2. Positive feedback gives you evidence to believe that it is wise to continue doing what you have been doing, at least for a while, because what you have been doing is bringing good results.
  3. Positive feedback tends to have a good effect on the mind: it is motivating and encouraging to find that what you have been doing recently is working.
  4. Positive feedback is motivating: you will feel more inclined to work if you think that your work will lead to more progress.
  5. Positive feedback is a confidence builder: you will feel your sense of self-worth growing if you can see that your actions are productive and that you are a person who can make good things happen.

How do people respond to NOT getting positive feedback?

People tend to respond badly to NOT getting enough feedback. If a person is working and they do not receive any positive feedback for their work, then it has a negative effect on their mind.

If there is a perceived lack of progress, appreciation, praise, recognition and reward, then people will soon lose their motivation and may even become resentful.

Have you ever heard anyone complaining that they don't feel appreciated?

Have you ever heard people at work saying, "Whenever something goes wrong, they are soon on our case, but nobody says anything to us, when things go right!"

If you remove positive feedback, then you also remove and lose its benefits.

If you remove positive feedback from your conversation, (appreciation, praise, recognition and reward) then you automatically lose its positive effects.

If you remove positive feedback, then you will notice a loss of any feeling of progression; a loss of self-confidence.

If there is no positive feedback, it is de-motivational.

A lack of feedback creates an unwillingness to keep-on working.

Positive feedback is like oxygen. People need it to keep them going: And they hate NOT getting it.

Why do some people fail to give positive feedback?

If you consider all the benefits you gain if you do give other people positive feedback, and all the penalties you must pay if you fail to give it, then you might think that everyone on the planet would be busily giving each other positive feedback.

Strangely, they don't. Most people don't give as much positive feedback as they could or should.

As a consequence, most people do not get the best results from others, and most people feel slightly starved of praise, appreciation and thanks.

There is not enough positive feedback in the world. Not enough praise appreciation and thanks.

So the question stands, why is it that some people fail to give positive feedback?

There are many reasons, including the following:

Many people simply don't think of it, or they forget.

Many people simply do not understand the importance of praise, thanks and positive feedback. They have never given the issue much thought, and as a consequence, it never once occurs to them to issue praise to others. So they don't.

Some people do not think it is necessary.

Some people do not think that it should be necessary to praise people for good work, since they expect good work to be done, as the norm. For example, I once heard a person say, "Why should I say thank you to the waitress for bringing my coffee, that is what she is paid for".

"Why should I thank my employees for their work, I pay them, don't I?"

There are many people who do not give positive feedback on the grounds that they should not need to do it, since people should want to work, for its own sake.

Which is okay, but the fact is, that most people don't want work for its own sake. Almost everyone will stop working when they notice that their work is not bringing them any positive feedback.

The positive feedback does not have to be money. It may be in the forms already listed; Praise, thanks, appreciation, even simply a smile or a thank you note.

Positive feedback is the oxygen of high performance and self-esteem.

Therefore, it is important to understand how to give positive feedback.

How and when to give positive feedback?

As a general rule you should give some positive feedback any time someone does something that you would like to see more of.

The idea is simple; you reinforce any behaviour that you would like to see again. And you reinforce any behaviour that is a small step towards a behaviour you want to see again.

Get into a habit of reinforcing, by means of positive feedback, any progressive action in the direction of your goals.

For example, if someone takes the bins out, remember to "tag it" with some positive feedback. Say, "Thank you for taking the bins out, I appreciate it."

At work if someone handles a problem well, then you should remember to tag it with some positive feedback. You might say, "You handled that customer's complaint really well. Thank you so much for doing that!"

Even if a waiter brings you a coffee to your table, tag it with some positive feedback, "Thank you for the coffee, I appreciate it."

The basic rule for giving positive feedback is, each time someone takes any action that you would like to see again or more of, then tag it with some positive appreciative feedback.

In addition to this basic rule, there are a few other smaller notes on giving positive feedback.

Be sincere.

All positive feedback must be sincere. Do not patronise people with fake compliments or insincere praise. Most people will know when they are hearing insincere flattery. Flattery is not a compliment. Insincere praise is an insult.

Wait until the person does something good or makes an improvement on something bad, and then give them the positive feedback.

Be specific.

Your feedback should be very specific. You should name the exact behaviour you are referring to. Do not give general praise which denotes nothing specific.

For example, saying "That last proposal document you wrote for the Smith account, was very professional. I especially liked the list of benefits you gave on page one."

That is better than, "You are doing great!"

Be quick.

Timing is important. Give your feedback soon after the event. People need to know when they are on track and when they are off track. Feedback is always more useful when it is immediate or is given soon after the event. Learning too late that you did it wrong is of no use. And recognition that comes long after the performance of good work has no motivational effect.

Don't delay. Praise people today!

Final point to ponder: Remember to give positive feedback to yourself.

How Positive Are You? Questionnaire

Do you have a positive mental attitude or are you a bit too negative for your own good? Try our How Positive Are You? quiz and find out.

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