When you do this one thing, people's eyes will shine

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We are so used to notice the negative and to criticize what is not working well, that we forget what many studies across disciplines show us repeatedly: positive feedback inspires peak performance. 

I was reminded again of the importance of the right positive words when I attended a workshop conducted by Rosamund Zander, author of The Art of Possibility and wife of the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Zander shared that in order to elicit peak performance, her husband looks to put in people’s eyes that “shine” that is a tell sign of enthusiasm, joy, and inspiration. He believes people give their best when they can also inspire others to connect and join in the experience.

What a great way to think! Imagine that you could put that shine. . .

  • in your wife’s eyes,

  • in your children’s eyes,

  • in your executive team’s eyes,

  • in your manager’s eyes,

  • in all the people that work for you.

    And imagine that all of them feel so inspired that not only they perform at their best, but also inspire others. The ripple effect would be amazing!

How to draw the best out of people. 

Dr. Hallowell in his book, "Shine" makes the point that “without the right care, brains get stupid.” According to him, the way to prevent and/or reverse this is mostly by instilling optimism and hope both at home and into the work environment. 

Using positive words inspire people to feel confident, instead of pessimistic. This leads to improved performance due to greater involvement of the whole cerebral cortex.

Saying positive words for your partner makes them feel loved and in turn they will be more loving towards you. It will also reduce conflict and increase connection in your relationship.

On the other hand, chronic fear and stress due to a negative environment causes neurons to be hijacked from performing well because the brain has to deal with negative emotions. When that happens, the logical side of the brain doesn’t work well.

 Key ideas for using positive affirmation effectively.

Positive affirmations are a powerful tool in helping people shine at work and in life, but you need to follow some key principles to make it more effective and to maximize its benefits. 

  1. Be genuine. False praise will backfire. You have to be authentic in your praise. This should not be a manipulative technique. It has to come from the heart to be able to really inspire. You need to cultivate positivity in yourself if you are going to be able to affirm and inspire others.

  2. Keep eye contact. Looking to another person in the eye makes a powerful connection and can tell them you are genuine in your praise.

  3. Word it in positive terms. The statement must be in itself positive in order for it to yield positive results. For example: Instead of saying: “I was glad you did not get angry when that costumer started insulting you,” it’s better to say: “Great job in staying calm and therefore helping that angry costumer calm down.”

  4. Give praise as soon as possible. It’s more effective to comment on the positive close to the time the person performed the action.

  5. Be brief. Experts agree that an affirmation statement must be short and specific to be effective. Shorter positive affirmation will have a greater impact on the brain than statements which are lengthy and very wordy. For example, it’s better to say to your wife “You look stunning this evening;” than to say “the color of your dress, the way it fits you, and the accessories you chose make you look great this evening.” See the difference?

  6. Praise often. There is evidence that people perform better if the ratio of positive to negative is 5-9 positives (depending on which study you read) for every negative. Leaders I work with tend to think they don’t have time to be looking for so many positive things. But when they start thinking about how much more time is wasted because of poor performance, errors, and conflict, they agree it takes less time and it’s a better return on investment to take time to notice and verbalize the positive. The same is true for relationships. Couple that take this seriously have seen their conflict diminish more than 75% and have felt their feelings of love returning after doing this consistently for about a month.

You can choose to help other’s give the best of themselves or to snuffle the spark and see them just do the bare minimum to get by.

Help to put that spark in other people’s eyes and your own will also shine!

Ada GonzalezComment