Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the  bones. ~ Proverbs 16:24

There is a lot of research available on how positive communication is the key to healthy relationships and work places. They all conclude the same findings. When positive relationships are in place, people thrive and performance improves. People in positive relationships are better at managing change, stress, and conflict. They are also more innovative, productive, and even more profitable. And, in a recent survey by Virgin, 40 percent of the respondents named positive relationships with their colleagues as the top reason they enjoy their work.

For positive relationships to flourish and survive long term, the positive to negative interactions should be at 9:1. That means we should be communicating 80% positive and not more than 20% negative comments to each other on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the opposite is generally true. According to a recent UW study, on an average day we give 1 positive comment for every 10 negative comments (1:10).

Do a Self-Assessment of Your Own Positive Communication

To see how often you communicate positively, take a self-assessment. For one day, keep a checklist of how many positive comments you make and how many times you catch yourself saying, thinking about, or getting ready to say a negative comment.  Especially take notice of how you do with the most important relationships in your life at work and at home.

What did you learn? Are you generally a positive communicator?  Do you focus on what’s going well instead of what isn’t going well?  Do you regularly practice appreciation and gratitude?  Are your words kind and positive? If not it’s time to take some disciplined action.

Take Action

Here are some simple and practical ways you can contribute to a positive workplace.

  • Be kind to everyone.
  • Get to know the person sitting next to you a little better. Go to lunch or socialize after work.
  • Pay attention and go out of your way to help those around you.
  • Work towards giving a minimum of 5 positive interactions to 1 negative or neutral one a day (and 9:1 is even better).
  • For more ideas, see 10 Ways to Be a More Positive Communicator.

Positive Communication is Contagious

Once you start increasing your positive communication, you will create a positive ripple effect that will influence your organizational culture regardless of your formal position. You don’t need permission or additional resources to do your part in improving your office (or home) culture.

Then ask yourself, are your positive comments 9:1?


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transform your life at work and at home, 52 Communication Tips, and Gladie’s Gift – all are available on  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit