Break Through Your Threshold: Power of Positive Words
By Jai Maa

My sister and I rented a lovely mom-n-pop hotel room on the beach to celebrate our birthdays. I mentioned to the receptionist the reason for our visit, and when we walked into our hotel suite overlooking the ocean, there was a gourmet cupcake dressed with birthday ribbon waiting for us on the counter. The staff did everything they could to make our stay enjoyable, so we booked another night. I jumped online and wrote a positive review for the hotel, and immediately my self-esteem increased as a result.

I then became curious about writing reviews for businesses in general. I read reviews from various Air B&B and hotel listings, and observed the impact the negative reviews had on business owners. Naturally, negative reviews inspired a defense from the owners. Sometimes a business owner would apologize in almost a needy-like way, and other times they would point out that certain amenities were clearly communicated on the website as unavailable.

I noticed what happened to my enthusiasm about a business when something negative was shared. The negative review could be followed by ten positive reviews, and yet, I felt mildly distracted by the single negative review. Even if the negative review was venting about the lack of an amenity that was indeed stated on the host’s website as unavailable, I still felt affected by the complaint.

As a business owner, I reflected on how I would like to be treated by someone who was not happy with my service. It’s the same with personal, non-business relationships; you can’t please all the people all the time. I would hope someone unsatisfied with me as a person or business owner would give me grace and share their feedback privately in person rather than publically complaining.

Why is it that we seem quick to vent and complain when we are unsatisfied, yet tend to withhold positive feedback when we are happy? What would it look like if we withheld our public shaming, and only praised our delightful experiences instead? How would changing the stories we share help us to feel better about ourselves? Sending out a positive vibe, showing gratitude, focusing on the positive aspects of others, does wonders in helping our own selves shift our perspectives to a greener side of the grass.

And you can say, “No, we really need to know ‘the bad’ that’s out there. That person in my life or business owner should be embarrassed because it will make them be better.”

But I ask you, do you like being manipulated with shame as an attempt to force you to change?

Imagine being at dinner with a group of people you want to like you and someone shouts out, “Hey! You have food in your teeth!” and everyone at the table looks at you. Sharing this feedback could have been just as easily delivered and easier to receive if the person had the courtesy to pull you aside. Then, it is your right to continue your life with food in your teeth, and eventually it will create a less than desirable effect in the way you connect with others.

Give people grace and the benefit of the doubt. Give them the courtesy of pulling them aside and pointing out where they “have food in their teeth.”

Look for the signs a person is giving their best or a business is making an effort. Say thank you to the staff personally, and write positive reviews to encourage their excellence. It takes intelligence and finesse to use your power correctly in this way. It takes wisdom to offer grace and inspire the world through positive reinforcement.

Enlightenment Challenge: Think of the last time you had a satisfying experience at a business, or with someone you know. Jump online right now and right a positive review to the business, or give that person a quick note of kind words (and watch what happens to your self-esteem as a result). The next time you have constructive feedback for anyone, give them the courtesy of sharing your experience privately.