Every time I visited my brother-in-law, who is a licensed family therapist, I would ask him to teach me something new I can put into practice when I return home. One day he told me about the “5 to 1 ratio,” and do you know what? I have not asked him for any more tips! Sounds like it didn’t work? The opposite! It works so well, and is such a challenge for me, that I am now focused on this one piece of advice–Now I just need to practice, practice, practice!
The “5 to 1 ratio” is an easy formula to remember. Want more influence with your coworkers? Want more impact with family members? Need to increase your persuasive voice?
Like I said, the formula is easy. Putting it into practice takes a whole different shift in the way we think and feel toward others. Dr. John Gottman, psychology professor at University of Washington and deemed a top influential therapist, studied couples’ interactions and found he could predict with over 90% accuracy whether that relationship would survive. He watched for smiles, winks, touches, hair-ruffling, hand to shoulder gesture, eye contact, and hugs, among other things. He also watched for expressions of interest and common courtesies, appreciation and sincere compliments.
“Thank you for setting the table.” “I’m grateful for your hug today.” “Thanks for letting me know where you’d be after school,” I love your smile!” are all wonderful things to hear, provided of course that they are genuine and meaningful remarks. This is true whether or not the relationship is a romantic one; our heart softens toward those who treat us kindly. Saying 5 positive things is foundational, then, in the event that a course correction or criticism seems warranted down the road. Your influence is so much more powerful if you first set the tone of respect.
Throwing in that “1” negative remark–that correction you want to see–is met with much less resistance when the recipient perceives you as someone who genuinely cares. Even in the classroom, when I want to see a student change his or her behavior in a particular way, I am only influential if the student is open to my suggestion.
♡From my website Learning to live, Learning to Love/Peggy Proffit