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10 Ways to give positive feedback and get people to do what you want.

We get better results when we give feedback that is specific and relevant, and this builds solid foundations so that something strong can be constructed from that.

Let’s look at the top ten ways to give positive feedback to people in your business and personal life.

  1. Give it in the first place – in some form 

People can’t mind read. Don’t presume they know you are pleased with them. You can make someone’s day, week or year, so make sure you don’t deny them that pleasure. (Research has shown that the impact of saying a specific, relevant thank you can be felt a long time afterwards.)

  2. Make it personal 

No one reinforce works with everyone, so find out what each person values. You can do this by experimenting. Try different ways for different people and see what reaction you get. E.g. when I used to work with some graphics guys, I would point out the specific creativity I noticed in their work and how effective it was. They thrived on it and they produced more and more fantastic creative results for our clients.

  3. Make it earned 

People respect most what they earn. It’s your job to set up opportunities for people to earn positive reinforcement. Set people up for success where possible. 

  4. Make it immediate if you can 

When you see desirable behaviour, reinforce it immediately. The more immediate the reinforcement, the more effective it is. Try to catch people in the act of doing what you want. This is not just staff. It can even be a supplier who delivers on time. E.g “Thanks, for being so reliable. Bob. Can always count on you.”

  5. Make it frequent 

It takes many reinforcers to turn desirable behavior into a habit. If you want to encourage people to do it a certain way, reinforce that you are happy with it being done that way.

  6. Direct it to right person 

Don’t let it get stuck in a bottleneck or be misdirected. Most of us have feel that kick in the guts when the credit for our work is given to someone else. Be mindful of not doing this to others. One way to do this is to thank everyone involved, or even ask people of their involvement if not sure.

  7. Make it relevant and specific 

It loses impact if it’s not. The person then knows exactly where they stand and what you liked.

  8. Make it genuine 

Don’t say something you don’t mean. It stands out a mile away and it can possibly damage trust.

  9. Do it in a way that you feel comfortable with 

If you are not comfortable saying it in front of a large group, then don’t. And it doesn’t always have to be words alone. Maybe it’s giving someone more business, or more responsibility.

  10. Choose the right type of feedback for the situation 

Flowers and a note may be appropriate for Bob, but not for Megan. Taking the time to walk across the office to give recognition personally to John may be very appropriate and significant.

Challenge: Give positive, specific, relevant positive feedback to five people this week. E.g. your business partner, clients, your child, a contractor. Notice how it makes you feel, the reaction you get from them on that occasion and the next time you see them.

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