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3:1 Positive Interactions | How to improve communication skills in a relationship

Updated: May 9, 2023

How to improve communication skills in a relationship? It’s important to maintain a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions inside your relationships. Think about it this way - every time you have a negative interaction with someone it affects them so much that they will take at least three positive interactions to neutralize that negative impact. With each positive interaction you deposit one coin into your relationship piggy bank. And with each negative interaction you withdraw three points from your relationship piggy bank.

For your relationships to feel healthy you want to make sure your piggy bank isn’t empty.

Why three positives to counteract one negative?

That’s because, for survival reasons, the human brain amplifies the negative at least three times as much as the positive. Now what do I mean by negative interactions? It’s an interaction that causes the other person to feel negative emotions like blame, criticism, anger, shame, guilt, disappointment, and so on.

So how well is your piggy bank doing in your key relationships at work and at home? Are you running on empty in any important relationship?

It only takes few seconds to deposit a positive in an interaction. It could be as simple as saying “well done” in the middle of hearing your report. Or saying “what I like about that idea is…” is response to an idea before trying to improve it. Or any 10 second expression of appreciation or gratitude.

Instead most of us tend to take the positive things for granted with our colleagues, our kids or spouse. We assume the other person is already aware that they’ve done a good job or that we notice and appreciate them. When you don’t make the effort to deposit the positive your relationship bank runs on empty. This means that every time you open your mouth to say something the other person is already cringing and on the defensive because they’ve already anticipated a negative. This ensures that their saboteurs not their Sage will be listening and reacting to you.

Think about your key work and life, relationships. Which ones could use more positive strokes to get closer to 3 to 1 ratio? In today’s interactions with others whether in person, phone or email see if you can deposit more positive. It only takes 10 seconds to deposit a positive manner Action.

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