Are You Being Too Critical?
Recently, my 21-year old daughter stopped me in my tracks.
“Have you ever heard your tone of voice with Jack (her 14 year old brother)?” she asked me this week. The implication was clear and clearly troubling!
Of course, none of us do hear just what we sound like. Nor do we measure how often we are critical versus how often we are positive in our communications at work and home.
Increasingly, researchers are doing just that. They are counting. The famous marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman and his team stand behind a one-way mirror and they count the positive versus the critical comments that couples make.
Gottman calculates the ratio of positive-to-critical for each couple. Then he tracks those couples for years. The results, which I share in this 3-minute video, will blow you away. If you have a strong interest in John’s marriage research, you might pick up Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.
In the business context, Barbara Frederickson, author of Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive, has also done a lot counting. She and Marcial Losada studied 40 business teams and meticulously counted the communicative behaviors. They found a clear and dramatic statistical relationship that separates high performing teams from others.
Before you watch the video and hear about their findings (or after you do), I invite you to estimate your own ratio of positive-to-critical comments that you make. Then, spend one day keeping track of your comments.
What did you find? Are you being too critical? Share your findings, questions and strategies for creating a positive ratio with me, Maria and other readers in the comments section below.
Dan Mulhern is an expert on leadership and organizational development. He currently teaches courses in business and law at UC Berkeley. Mulhern is the author of two leadership books, Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics and Life and Be Real: Inspiring Stories For Leading At Home And Work and is the co-author of the bestselling political book, A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future. He is married to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who served two terms as the governor of Michigan. They have three children.