Appreciative Coaching

There is an effective and growing approach to helping businesses and individuals change their actions and habits that is based on the principal that positive feedback and recognized success encourages learning and mastery more effectively than does negative critique.

Researchers and experience have demonstrated convincingly that positive feedback is in fact more powerful than negative criticism at “catching” and supporting behavior change. In one study, researchers videoed people bowling and then showed them the playback while pointing out either the mistakes they made or the correct things they did; people improved much more with the positive feedback than with the negative.

Other studies have shown that parents of tough kids improve their parenting when their children’s positive actions are pointed out, and that people can be trained to change actions and behaviors with nothing but positive feedback.

This is crucial information, if you’re trying to change, because there remain a determined block of coaches and consultants who look for problems, talk about what you’re doing wrong and point out each failed attempt at a solution. The types of questions that need to be asked are, “What is working now or in the past?” “What do you do well or enjoy doing?” “Where has your team thrived?”

A growing movement of consultants is asking these questions and more, trying to discover and use strengths and successes. These “Appreciative Inquires” help businesses and organizations solve long-standing problems and develop new business strategies. Those of us who use these practices with organizations also find them powerful with individuals. The label matters little, “Appreciative Coaching”, “Positive Coaching”, and “Strength Based Coaching” all recognize and building on current strengths.

If you want to work with someone who appreciates you and your team’s strengths, choose a coach/consultant who has significant experience in the business world and has demonstrated skill recognizing and building on the positive aspect of your actions. Be certain your coach gives at least 3 to 1 positive to negative feedback and holds a vision of a brighter future that builds on your demonstrated strengths.

This approach uses the power of positive feedback and focuses on where you want to head, not where you tripped.