Most of us have heard the analogy "glass half full" or "glass half empty." While I love the analogy and it often reminds me to keep looking at things positively, it also has a passive reality to it...asking us to sit back and observe the current state of something.
Faucets and drains, on the other hand, have
action associated with them. Both cause water to rise or fall. In the context of coaching, these two offer a reminder to "check ourselves" and ask if we're filling-up the team with energy or are we draining our team from having energy? Great coaches, of course, fill more than they drain the team with energy and positive input.
Still a deeper question (one often not asked or considered) is - What's the temperature of the water coming out of the faucet? Who likes to wash their hands with scalding-hot water? Or how long do you keep your hands in ice-cold water? When the water temperature is extreme, one way or the other, we become super uncomfortable. So, then, the obvious goal is to make sure your water temperature is just right. So what's the right temperature, you ask?
There's great evidence from social science research (sports psychology, organizational psychology, and positive psychology) that has discovered a "positivity ratio" to help us achieve the right temperature for maximum performance. According to Barbara Fredrickson's research, in order for people to achieve their best performance, a 3-to-1 ratio is the minimum. In other words, sharing 3 positive messages of feedback to 1 negative message of feedback will help you as a coach. A 2-to-1 ratio only yields you an average response, a 1-to1- ratio starts to risk your effectiveness and any ratio that shows you're more negative than positive will guarantee poor performance.
So what exactly is a positive approach? Fredrickson's research team helps answer that question too. Your players will perceive you as being positive if you are:
open to ideas and feedback from others (you don't have to have all the answers)
appreciative (gratitude goes a long way, right?)
curious (look for new ways to reach your players, get out of your routines)
kind (no further explanation needed)
real (if you try to over-sell the idea of being positive, your players will see right through it)