Influence & Unconditional Positive Regard

There is a concept in Psychology circles called: “Unconditional Positive Regard” (or U.P.R.), which gives us a leadership framework for showing our support to others, even those who it might be difficult for us to do so. It goes like this:

  • Accept the person.
  • Praise the effort.
  • Reward results.

Now, I grew up in a crime and punishment household like most of you. I don’t know what would have happened if my parent’s didn’t believe in “spare the rod, spoil the child”. God knows, we don’t want to spoil anybody, that would probably make an already bad situation worse. But if a person is not doing irreparable damage to my institution, I think that institution-wide U.P.R. should be the step I start with long before “retraining” people even becomes necessary. For instance: my parents did reward me for good grades. As a result, I made it through higher education with a firm drive to keep my grades at a respectable level, long after I had aged beyond the reward system. Positive management style, positive employees/volunteers/children, positive results.

The science is fascinating: when you reward people who meet your standards on a regular and unbiased basis, it creates a cognitive dissonance that strongly brings people-with-problems in line with your naturally high achievers or those who already strive to meet your standards. Even if achievement and reward doesn’t drive them to shift their behavior, peer pressure might just do the trick: when your neighbor gets a raise, then your other neighbor gets a raise, human psychology suggests you will emulate what they do in order to join them. I am who I work with.

Furthermore, when the pressure of constant corporate punishment no longer looms over your office, church, bakery, salesfloor or candle shop, it fosters an environment of trust. Trust, if you remember in Christopher Barrat’s TED talk comes right before “Buy”; BUY a product, BUY positive performance, BUY success for yourself as a leader because those under you feel safe, driven and the need to succeed themselves.

Unconditional Positive Regard is unique, and in today’s society, is difficult to find because it is human nature to either directly confront, or passively distance ourselves from people-with-problems. As a result, U.P.R. may actually be a huge source of influence that is largely untapped.

Unconditional Positive Regard was a concept developed by Psychologist Carl Rodgers. For details on the concept, check out the wiki here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_positive_regard

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