There seems to be an element of mystery about why some relationships in our lives do so well where others are doomed to disaster.
Even if we like a person, it’s difficult to predict whether in the long run we will continue to get on and make it through all the many challenges that life can present as a strong unit, rather than two very different people who have to work hard to see eye to eye.
No couples getting married could anticipate that one day they fall out and yet 45% of marriages end in divorce. And this is people who were once in love!
In 1986 a researcher called John Gottman set up a ‘love lab’. He studied hundreds of married couples relationships through interviews and observations. Incredibly, he was able to predict with 94% accuracy, which couples would get divorced and which couples would last the distance.
How did he do it?
With a golden ratio. He noticed that if the amount of positive feedback the couple gave one another outnumbered the negative feedback at a ratio of 3 nice / positive things said for every one less nice / negative things said, their relationship tended to stay strong, whatever challenges they might together face. The couples who dipped below that ratio of good to bad things said didn’t fare so well.
John Gottman’s findings fascinated the social science and psychology community and many others replicated his studies in different settings. In businesses, and colleges the exact same ratio of positive to negative feedback was found to be an accurate predictor of whether a group would succeed and flourish, or become weakened over time by disharmony from within. Every study supported the golden rule ratio as being 3:1.
It was Marcel Losada’s research into the effects of positive to negative feedback among teams of colleagues that became the most widely publicised and well-known about and so the golden 3:1 ration came to be widely referred to as the Losada Ratio. If you start experimenting with the Losada ratio in your own class / marriage / friendship / workplace and become mindful to keep your positive feedback at least three times more frequent than anything negative or critical that may need to be said at times, you will witness your relationships grow stronger by the day and disagreements and conflicts becoming less frequent.
So many scientific studies have proven this technique to be effective. And relationships, whatever their context, are so seldom easy. Why not give it a go?