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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Imagine for one second that you are an employee in the workplace... Which choice do you think will be a better motivating factor to encourage better results? The opportunity for reward for good work produced or punishment for poor results?

As human beings, we prefer to be praised rather than punished. So isn't it natural to assume that praising a person could have a greater impact on changing a person's behaviour as compared to the threat of a punishment? This leads me to The Power of Positive Reinforcement.

So, what is positive reinforcement?

Well, positive reinforcement involves the use of positive signals such as (verbal) encouragement or (tangible) rewards to encourage and reinforce a certain desirable behavior.

This concept has been well established to be effective in animal conditioning. For example, rewarding a dog immediately after performing a correct command makes it much more likely that the dog will perform the action the next time it is requested.

The timing of this positive reinforcement is also critical. Positive messages have much more impact the closer the message is to the event itself.

To take advantage of this fact, remember to praise and reward an action as soon as possible. When your child comes and informs you about his or her good grades, show enthusiasm and be hearty in your praise and lavish in your appreciation.

In the same way in which positive reinforcement encourages positive behavior, negative reinforcement will also unwittingly bring about negative behavior.

Let me elaborate more about negative reinforcement. Imagine a parent who keeps criticizing a child repeatedly. The parent might say, "You're good for nothing." or "You're sure to fail." Such messages only serve to reinforce the image of failure in the child's mind.

Hence, do remember to avoid negative messages and practice the power of positive reinforcement so as to bring more joy and happiness into the lives of others.

If you've enjoyed this post. Do help to spread this message of joy and positivity by helping to bookmark or link it. You might also be interested in giving some honest and sincere appreciation or reading more articles on interpersonal communication.


Unknown said...

I agree that all of us yearn to be praised. However, praising if not done succintly, can sound condescending. That's one thing to note when dishing out praises.

The 'conditioning' that you mention is a fantastic way to steer one towards certain behaviour. However, once the stimulous is absent, there's a tendency for the behaviour to unravel. As such, the best way is still self motivation, which is certainly more sustaining.

Anonymous said...

Encouraging people is a good thing to do.

Often people judge or critize other people more often than encouraging them, which is a pity, really.

Keri said...

I agree that positive reinforcement is better. I work in a law office and one of the lawyers always tells me how much of a help I am and that I'm doing an excellent job. Just this morning, he gave me a high five for a subpoena and notice of deposition that I prepared. It makes a person feel better about the job they are doing.

Interpersonal Communication Skills said...

Totally agree with the importance of positive reinforcements. Prolonged negativity on someone not only affects the person receiving it, it will also turn us into someone who is always on the lookout for negativity, which will obviously limit us.

Anonymous said...

Positive reinforcement not only shapes behavior but also teaches and in the process enhances our self image. Negative reinforcement produces behavior change but often in strange, unpredictable, and undesirable ways. A person who has been punished is not only less inclined to behave in a given way but also learns how to avoid punishment. However, many attempts to use positive reinforcement fail because it is not used appropriately or consistently.

communication skills training said...

Really no one in the world can ignore the power of positive thinking. Positive thinking people are one of the most successful and blessed ones as they don't have those worries that are associated with people's having negative thinking habit.