Readers of this blog know I advocate positive reinforcement training for dogs. But I rarely talk about positive reinforcement and people. It works the same for us as it does for dogs. If you read my article on why we (people) are so quick to use punishment, you'll see the reasons I think we jump so quickly to punishment.
But why don't we jump to reinforcement just as quickly? Think of the change we could make!
I just gave a presentation at ClickerExpo on using social media for dog training entrepreneurs. It was my first real public speaking experience. And I was plenty nervous. After my talk, I got lots of positive reinforcement – people told me they liked my talk. How nice! That was really reinforcing – they liked my talk and they liked the material. With that feedback, I'm now looking more forward to giving the talk again in Lexington, KY at the next ClickerExpo in March.
Another example of positive reinforcement with people: a blizzard is bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic. People are frenzied. Grocery stores are packed. Earlier today I was in line at the grocery and smiled at the harried clerk as I approached the register. He glanced up and mumbled an apology for the wait. I smiled, made a joke and told him not to worry. His face changed immediately. He almost looked surprised. I saw his shoulders relax and his frantic pace slowed just a bit. We chatted as he rung my purchases up, then made a few more jokes as I paid.
The folks behind me chimed in, laughing at the dire forecast, joking about the panicked masses. All of a sudden, a tense situation lightened – for all of us. It was something to see! And what started it? A smile. That's it!
You can make a difference. Instead of speaking up only when you get sub-par service, remember to notice – and comment – when you've gotten good service. Just a little "thank you," or simple compliment can go a long way to making someone's day.
And here's a bonus – I promise you this: if you adopt this practice of noticing the little things that are good, you'll have a much better day, week, month. It sounds very "pollyanna," I know, but I swear it's true! And the more you notice the good things, the less you'll notice the not-so-good things.
I'm not saying you shouldn't give constructive criticism if the situation doesn't meet your standards. I want to hear how I can improve my public speaking skills and my presentation. Restaurants need to know if your meal was undercooked. Just remember to notice and comment on the good stuff as well.We'll all be better off…