Yes! Lots More Positive PLEASE!


Who doesn’t crave a little more positive in their life or work? I know I do! ?

Stewardship is one of my Top 5 values. It encompasses a lot for me, including stewarding my time, money, resources, and my health. Exercise, proper rest, a positive mindset, healthy habits, and nutritious eating all add up to health for me.

I watched the Today Show a few years back when they did a segment on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. They claimed to do it in a way that would even make kids happy. They featured several recipes, including one for Broccoli Pancakes. Maybe that doesn’t sound particularly yummy, but the taste testers were all delighted by the pancakes.

I was inspired! I like pancakes and I like broccoli. It made sense to try to make the Broccoli Pancakes!

With great anticipation the next morning I set out to make the Broccoli Pancakes. We just happened to have steamed broccoli the night before for dinner – seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the recipe a try!

The verdict: The pancakes were horrible! Truly disgusting! Perhaps, with less broccoli in them the pancakes would have be more tolerable?

Proportions Matter…

and this recipe was a fantastic reminder! There is no arguing that broccoli is good for you, but too much broccoli in your pancakes – that’s overpowering and a very unpleasant flavor.

Proportions matter when it comes to how we communicate and interact too! According relationship guru John Gottman, it takes five positive interactions to balance out every negative interaction.

Did you catch that? For every negative thing you say, every negative interaction, it takes 5 to make up for it!

According to Gottman, when negative interactions exceed the 5 to 1 ratio, a marriage becomes unstable, increasing the odds of divorce. There is no denying that this ratio plays a role in marriages, but there are implications for your other relationships as well including your relationships with those you lead.

As a leader, communicating in positive ways is vital – kind ways that convey genuine care and interest in those you lead. Taking the time to ask questions, listen, and understand those on your team goes a long way towards making the moments when criticism or feedback are warranted that much more palatable.

You have the ability to control the way you communicate and interact. It’s not always easy, but you alone choose what and how you communicate. And as a leader, how you communicate sets the tone for the organization. And if you aren’t a leader, you still have the opportunity to influence those around you in a positive or negative way.

In order to achieve that 5 to 1 ratio, here are a few tweaks you might want to make when it comes to communicating:

1. Vision

What’s more compelling than an inspiring and motivating vision? Knowing exactly how I personally contribute! Now that’s a catalyst for creativity!

When a vision is fuzzy, uninspiring, or unrealistic, it creates a negative experience. Your people need to know the big “WHY” behind what they are doing. Your vision is even more compelling when it is short, memorable, and something you filter everything through.

Are your people crystal clear on the vision? If asked, would they be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly?

2. Culture

It’s your responsibility as the leader to create the desired culture for those you lead. That means that you have to model the behaviors you want them to have. Since none of us are perfect, there are areas you will actively be working on and even that makes for a good role model. Demonstrating characteristics like integrity, honesty, vulnerability, and humility go a long way! When those you lead see your efforts to grow and improve, they may be moved to make changes that positively contribute to a better working environment too.

Bad attitudes are contagious. People who are lazy, disrespectful, or selfish create negative experiences – experiences you can’t directly control outside of being aware of what’s going on and taking steps to address the issues. It’s tempting to put up with negative attitudes in order to avoid confrontation or potentially lose a person that has the skills you think you need, however, if they are impacting others in a negative way, you are better off without them.

Remember, positive attitudes are contagious too!

Why not discuss as a team what would create a more positive culture? Consider topics such as what would build trust, create optimism, unity, or positive communication. What feeds passion, or how can you all connect as a team?

3. Planning, Processes, & Systems

A compelling vision and inspiring culture can’t make up for a lack of planning. When repeated surprises due to a lack of planning pop up, it’s going to negatively impact those you lead.

On the flip side, detailed and rigid planning may also have a negative effect.  How will you allow for flexibility and making adjustments in a way that creates a more positive experience?

How safe is it to share ideas or to express what’s working and what’s not? Are your processes inefficient, out of date, or too complicated and contributing to a negative experience?

4. Compensation

People leave jobs and volunteer roles for a variety of reasons including…

  • They don’t trust their bosses/leader
  • Not feeling trusted by their boss
  • Being expected to work during off hours
  • Having difficult co-workers
  • Lack of flexibility in the job
  • Being blamed for your boss’ or coworkers’ mistakes
  • Unrealistic expectations

The most frequent reason for quitting: Money.

How one is compensated does make a difference, no matter what the reason is for quitting. Compensation includes salary, bonuses, benefits, perks, recognition, and relationship. While salary, bonuses, benefits, and perks are obvious you might be surprised to learn that how someone’s efforts are recognized, how appreciation is shown, and your relationship with them, also translates into compensation, and compensation colors experiences.

As the leader, are you communicating and interacting with those you lead in a way that leaves a good taste in their mouth? One that is at minimum five times as positive than negative?

Ultimately, the proof is in the pancake. What would those you lead say? Is your leadership serving up pancakes that are overpowered by broccoli or have you managed to master the 5 to 1 ratio in a way that makes the “broccoli” tolerable?

Where will you intentionally be more positive?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.