The Losada Ratio

As part of a project to put together a weekend training in March, I have been given a leadership assignment: Losada Colada!

“Losada Colada”? Whatever is that? In the terms it was given to me, my assignment is to communicate 3 positive things for every critical one. Let me explain:

The Losada ratio is defined (see The Power of Positivity, in Moderation) as the sum of the positivity in a system divided by the sum of its negativity. Amit Amin, in the above-referenced article on happierhuman.com, reported that a ratio of 3.0 to 6.0 is highly correlated with high performance in multiple areas of life. The ratio predicts divorce rates with 90% accuracy and is also highly predictive of the profitability and satisfaction of teams in organizations. College students with a positivity score of 3.0 or above exhibited higher emotional and social health.

While there are known issues with the mathematics of how Losada ratios have been calculated, the basic premise is indisputable: As long as you are not unreasonably positive/optimistic in a way that could be harmful to your well-being, more positive thinking—and communication—will make you a more productive person with better relationships and a more fulfilling life.

The Positivity Challenge

Why then, even knowing this, do I find myself often focusing on the negative?

I had a lot of training growing up on doling out criticism, and in my adult life I have even given myself a job where it is my job to find what’s wrong with someone’s writing and fix it. This is a very comfortable activity and attitude for me. I do make an effort to provide positive feedback in addition to the negative: When making comments on a document I often insert, “Love this word!” “Nice phrasing here!” “Yes YOU come through so much more now!” But somehow I almost always feel like I’ve pointed out more wrong than right, especially when editing the work of my writers.

As project manager for this upcoming weekend workshop www.transformweekendtraining.com, I am being trained to create group enthusiasm. My assignment of Losada Colada is intended to make me better at doing that with a team of people who, like me, are doing this work not as a paid job but for their personal growth. Without their buy-in, our project will likely struggle.

And so I keep my instructions in mind: 3:1 ratio positive:negative.

The Impact of Positivity

Even before this assignment, I trained myself to say at least one positive thing before saying a negative one; saying three is taking extra focus. I like it because it is allowing me to see more of the strengths in the people around me than I normally see.

I’m not doing a perfect job with this assignment. For instance, one of my team members (I’ll call him Ron) was holding two roles and not doing either of them 100%. I called him to relieve him of one of the roles, thinking he would be happy that some responsibility was being taken off his shoulders; but he was clearly hurt. I looked at how I had communicated. Had a done my Losada Colada assignment?


I called Ron back, told him I had messed up and not done my assignment, then appreciated him for 3 things. He responded much better to that communication. And when I told our group about the change in leadership, I made sure to appreciate Ron for all he had done well.

Ron took more action on his other role than he had in the 3 weeks before this communication! It worked.

LinkedIn Losada

As LinkedIn members and networkers, we can all practice Losada Colada. I received the following note in my inbox a few days ago:

“Thanks for connecting with me Brenda, and more importantly the wonderful tips. I love them 🙂 I will definitely will spread the word about what a wonderful person and incredible resources you offer. I just signed up for mailers 🙂 YES!”

This note made me feel great! It even got me to investigate further into the website this connection was promoting. He was practicing what he preached! I’m going to keep doing my Losada Colada assignment for the rest of my life. I will probably get more out of it than a I would from a sweet drink on the beach, though I do enjoy pineapple and coconut (non-alcoholic) beverages!

How do you envision bringing Losada Colada into your relationships, both at home and at work? What do you think the impact might be? If you try it and see results, please share your stories!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this idea. I also spend a lot of time grading (editing) undergrad writing and am guilty of offering excessive negative comments. I’m nowhere near the 3:1 ratio.

    Perhaps Wisconsin’s legislators could benefit from Losada Colada.


    Wisconsin expat

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