Justin greeted me at the front door. His energy level was up and he had that telltale smile.
“Justin, how can you tell the difference between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement? In terms of response from the team member?”
Justin searched for the answer. He retraced his steps, thinking about interactions he had with his team. I interrupted his thought.
“Let me ask the question differently,” I said. “How can you immediately tell the difference between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement? What is the immediate response to positive reinforcement?”
Justin was thinking way too deeply for the answer.
I continued my interrogation. “Yesterday, you described yourself as politically incorrect and I said ‘I appreciate your honesty.’ Do you remember?”
Justin cracked a smile. “Yes, I thought you were going to give me a lecture on negative reinforcement. Instead, you started talking about my honesty.”
“See, you did it.”
“Did what?” Justin replied.
“You smiled. The immediate response to positive reinforcement is a smiling face. Many managers think they are delivering positive reinforcement to their team members, but I see scowls in return. Positive reinforcement invites a smile. If you don’t get a smile, you didn’t connect.”