Positive Reinforcement for Work, Home and the Dog Park

A blast from the past…

Animal trainers, management consultants and psychologists all seem to agree that positive reinforcement (or operant conditioning or Whale Done or etc.) is the best way to deal with people. And yet we still scream at employees, spank our kids and choke our dogs.

Pavlov, Dale Carnegie, Ken Blanchard, BF Skinner, they all recognize that by rewarding correct behavior and redirecting incorrect behavior we can sustain radical long term change. And judging by the cultural influence and sales volume of these thinkers, we know what they said has merit. So the question is, “Why do I consistently focus on the negative in my staff, family, spouse, dog, friends, tiger, etc.?”

The answer I think lies in our inability to deal with our pride. Someone does something incorrectly, we freak out and chew them out. Later we remember that we were supposed to have reaffirmed them as a person, showed them what it was that was expected and helped them get there. Then praise progress and celebrate success. Not only is this more effective than our natural reactions, but it also feels better for the giver and receiver. Better relationships are formed. When people like you, they are much more likely to do what you want. Earn their trust, respect, friendship, and you do not have to struggle in this area.