There is an adage, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, but does it have a place in professional settings? It turns out, people are persuaded more by comments framed in a positive manner than negative.

According to PsyBlog, “A recent analysis added up the results of 29 different studies…found was none of the expected advantage for loss-framed messages, indeed there was a slight persuasive advantage for messages that were framed positively.” In other words, “Emphasising the positive can be more persuasive than pointing out the negative.”

What does this mean for a mentor or manager? If you’re trying to affect change in someone’s behavior, provide the context in a positive light rather than negative, explain the benefits of doing something, rather than the ill effects of the alternative. This extends beyond coaching, to announcements or feedback, and can have a larger effect on a company culture.

In a recent conversation with Kerri Trounce, Head of Production at The College of Law, UK she discussed how Rypple caused a change in attitude of their team based on positive framing. “Thanks has shifted the context from negative to positive. They work hard there but now instead of complaining that a shoot went late they will thank people for staying late. Positive framework shifts the perspective. People feel rewarded and noticed!”

Photo of you are awesome by Torley. Licensed under CC.

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