The Losada Ratio: Praise (5) vs. Criticism (1)

August 4, 2014

Positive to Negative Ratio

Losada Ratio

The Losada ratio is the ratio of positive to negative comments you convey to others. As you might imagine, people prefer to hear praise. They also tend to be more productive when they do. Losada and Heaphy found that the most effective work teams praised five times or more than they criticized.

Filling the Emotional Bank Account

Stephen Covey said that we are either making deposits in or withdrawals from others’ emotional bank account. The Losada ratio supports Covey’s theory and shows that the goal should be much higher than a one-to-one ratio.

Too Positive Can Lead to Negative Performance

Don’t shoot for all-praise. An all-praise, affirming, supportive environment with no criticism will lead to under-performance. As Ron Heifetz (King Hussein Bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Kennedy School) has shown, leaders must use tension and criticism to create a proper sense of urgency and direction.

What’s Your Losada Ratio at Home?

John Gottman’s analysis on wedded couples affirms Losada and Heaphy’s research. Marital harmony comes down to the positive to negative ratio. Keep those compliments sailing towards your spouse (like when you were dating) or you might find yourself quickly living apart.


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