By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
An online devotional for writers
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)
Positive words (“I agree” and “good idea!”) are the ultimate power words – terms that arouse a reader’s feelings and move her to respond.
Studies bear this out.
Researchers Emily Heaphy (University of Michigan) and consultant Marcial Losada tested the effectiveness of 60 leadership teams. The significant factor between the most and least successful teams, they discovered, was the ratio of positive comments to negative comments teams exchanged.
The highest-performing teams exchanged 5.6 positive comments for every 1 negative comment – nearly a 6 to 1 ratio.
Meanwhile, the lowest-performing teams exchanged 0.36 negative comments for every 1 negative comment. That is, they offset every three negative comments with just 1 positive comment.
It’s not that the more successful teams spoke only unicorns-and-lollipops into each other’s lives. Constructive criticism is part of their mix, allowing team members to pay attention and make improvements.
They simply used it judiciously … while generously choosing positive words nearly six to one.
Solomon put it well: it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.
Positive words are powerful.
I need discernment. Show me when to use positive language as I write. Reveal when I need negative words to get a reader’s attention and make a point. Let me say the right thing at the right time.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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