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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Criticism V/S Praise


Research shows that positive questions about employees’ goals help to release dopamine, while continually pointing out what people are doing wrong makes them lose focus and shut down.


Daniel Goleman, the father of Emotional Intelligence, explains how criticism triggers anxiety and negative emotions. When we’re told about things that we’re doing wrong, Goleman says, it “shuts us down, puts us on the defensive, and narrows our possibilities to operate successfully.” On the flip side, when you ask employees about their dreams and how to achieve them, they open up, think creatively, and feel good.


Goleman notes that for his book Focus: The hidden driver of Excellence, he interviewed Richard Boyatzis, a professor and neurologist who tracked brain activity to find the best coaching practices. “Talking about your positive goals and dreams activates brain centres that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down,” Boyatzis says in the book.


Boyatzis’s research found that positive interviews about goals triggered people’s reward centre and released dopamine, the chemical responsible for feeling pleasure. But negative interviews that focused on problems and criticism did the exact opposite, releasing anxiety and making the interviewees defensive and unable to focus on how to improve themselves.


Appraisals or performance reviews are not a time to coddle employees. They are an opportunity to provide honest feedback and encourage team members to improve in areas they are struggling. To do that effectively, there needs to be a balance of positive and negative. In Boyatzis’s words: “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive. You need both but in the right ratio.”


How do you use appraisals to help your team members improve their performance at your company? How often do you engage with your employees to allow them express their dreams and goals?