“Constructive criticism” becomes destructive criticism when it’s poorly delivered by a leader with a very low negativity/positivity ratio. My March blog on The Best Positivity/Negativity Ratio for Peak Performance discussed research on balancing positive to negative statements for optimum personal, team, and organization performance.
CNN recently featured an article on how leaders can most effectively deliver negative feedback. The article reported on the University of Michigan Business School’s study of team performance correlated to the frequency of praise and criticism:
“The best-performing teams used about six times as many positive comments for every negative one. It found that the worst performing teams, on average, used three negative comments for every positive one.”
A similar ratio of positive to negative comments has been found for marriages.
Highly effective leaders don’t pretend all is positive and rosy while ignoring difficult issues (the moose-on-the-table). Corrective feedback that addresses negative behaviors keeps individuals and teams on their pathways to peak performance. Most often the issue is not what is said but how feedback is delivered. It’s been said that 90% of the friction in relationships is caused by the wrong tone of voice.
Can You Cope with Criticism at Work? provides this advice:
All this growing research on maintaining positive and strengths-based relationships sheds new light on the old notion of “relationship bank accounts.” We need to put up to six times more deposits in our relationship bank account to cover just one withdrawal. If we allow these accounts to run big deficits we’ll end up with expensive overdraft charges and likely bankrupt the relationship.
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