Are you a POSITIVE person? 

We all have bad days, and it’s normal to not feel positive about things 100% of the time, but according to academic research, there are real benefits to keeping it positive!

image of Dr. Andrea Wojnicki

3 things to Talk About this week:

1. The “Magic” Relationship Ratio
2. Sometimes the best advice is what NOT to do
3. Dealing With Negative People

1️⃣ The “Magic” Relationship Ratio

Have you heard of the magic ratio?

According to research conducted by Dr. John and Julie Gottman, the likelihood of a marriage lasting can be predicted by the proportion of positive to negative interactions. 

The “magic” ratio for a stable and happy relationship is 5:1. This means that for every negative interaction, couples must experience at least five positive interactions, like active listening, showing affection, and demonstrating appreciation.

"Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions." - Dr. John M. Gottman, The Gottman Institute

The 5:1 ratio came up in my recent conversation with Jill Nykoliation.

Here’s a question for you:

What proportion of your
SELF-TALK is positive?

Is it anywhere near 5:1? 

Let’s be kinder to ourselves, and ensure that the majority of our self-talk is positive!

2️⃣ Sometimes the best advice is what NOT to do

This is a huge insight that I learned when I was at Harvard Business School, seeking insights about how to become an effective teacher.

I asked one of the top-rated professors if she had any advice.  Instead of telling me what I should do, she said this:

Beware of others’ advice for what you SHOULD do in the classroom.
Much of that depends on your personal style.
The more helpful advice is what to NOT do.
These are the common pitfalls and mistakes that you should avoid.

Once I learned that lesson, I realized this applies to most of the advice we receive. Brilliant!

I was reminded of this insight when I read my friend Judith Humphrey‘s advice about job-seeking:

"Avoid these 6 common phrases when looking for a new job"

Judith’s recent Fast Company article suggests avoiding phrases such as “I wanted to reach out to you…”  YES! It’s passive and it’s past tense! You can do better.

Whether or not you’re on the job market, Judith’s list of phrases to avoid will help boost your communication effectiveness.

3️⃣ Dealing with negative people

At some point, either personally or professionally, we will all have to deal with negative people. I’m talking about the people whose default is “no,” “we can’t do that,” or “that won’t work.”

image shows a hand giving the "thumbs down" sign next to the word "No" written on a blackboard; image via Canva

What’s a person to do?

Often, a little empathy and compassion go a long way.

Try getting to know them on a more personal level. This doesn’t mean completely removing all boundaries between work and life. But this can help you to find common ground, and to understand whether their negativity is part of their personality or a temporary mood.

Tamara also introduced me to David Rock’s S.C.A.R.F. model. Negative people often perceive one of these is under threat:

  • Status
  • Certainty
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Fairness

Just knowing which of these factors is at play can help you diagnose the real issue.

To learn more about how to deal with negative people, including insights from Human Resources expert Tamara Finlay, check out Talk About Talk episode #39.

There you go – 3 things to Talk About this week: the “magic” ratio, communication advice for job-seekers, and how to deal with negative people.

Do you have any tips on keeping things positive? Please email me or message me on LinkedIn. I’d positively love to hear from you!

Talk soon,


Learn about 1-on-1 COACHING with Andrea,
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