Lessons From Vacation

Over spring break my family spent some time in Chicago for a few days. My daughter had learned some about dinosaurs in her kindergarten class earlier this year and we thought it would be great for her to see an actual dinosaur, Sue, at the Field Museum. We also spent a day at the Shedd Aquarium. Christina and I have been to both as recently as 2008, but Carissa was only 6 month old, so it was all new to her. Both kids loved it!


While at the aquarium, we watched the aquatic show and they’ve added in a segment about their new dog training program. Shedd selects dogs from local shelters for their program to be trained and used at the aquarium and to show how their training methods can work on household pets, too. They said something during the show that is still with me regarding how they use positive reinforcement training methods. “An animal here will never hear the word ‘no’ or be punished.” Never. That’s amazing to me, considering I have a toddler and feel like a say no all the time. I was intrigued and had to look more into their program.

It seems like an impossible task. Never say the word “no.” No punishments. One of the trainers described why they do it like this: “If you punish them they’ll just swim away and they’ll never want to work with you again.” It’s just a dolphin though, right?

“If you punish them they’ll just swim away and they’ll never want to work with you again.”

I think people are the same way. I had at experience at work last week that connected this for me. Here at MachMotion, we strive to celebrate lived out examples of our core values. In only my third week here, I’ve heard multiple people commended for going the extra mile or showing integrity in a situation. However, last week it happened to me. I was complimented in front of everyone at our morning meeting. Positive reinforcement!

How much further can we build trust and relationship with someone by a positive comment than a negative one? Research shows the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio to be almost 6 positive comments for every negative one. I’ve heard this said before but I’m thankful to see this actually lived out at my workplace.

It makes me think, how do I treat people? Am I generous enough with positive comments to those around me (my wife or kids, friends, or coworkers)?

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