DUBNER: ...Positive feedback is really helpful when you’re trying to increase someone’s commitment. So let’s say, you know, someone new to a job or a project. Here’s Stacey Finkelstein, a Columbia management professor who’s been studying feedback.
FINKELSTEIN: For these people, positive feedback is most motivating. It’s what signals that there’s value to what they’re doing, they like what they’re doing, or that they might achieve their goal at some point.
DUBNER: ...once somebody really buys into that goal, positive feedback has diminishing returns. So if you’re looking for actually improvement you’ve got to start going negative. Okay? Here is Heidi Grant Halvorson, she’s a psychologist also at Columbia.
HALVORSON: Look, doling out negative feedback is not fun. It’s embarrassing. We feel terrible. We feel guilty. So we love hearing, ‘hey, maybe I don’t have to give negative feedback.’ ‘Maybe I can just say positive things!’ ‘If I just keep saying positive things, then somehow this person will work to their fullest potential and everything will turn out fine. ’ And that just turns out to not be the case.
The church is great at giving positive feedback. But you know what? Jesus was not just giving positive feedback. In fact, to those whom were deeply dedicated, he gave negative feedback. From telling a pious man that he should sell all that he has or even when he yells that his disciples have little faith. Jesus understands that positive feedback is helpful for motivating people to commit, but to improve those already committed, you need to give negative feedback.
No truer words have been spoken then by Dubner when he says, "you can either look at trying to make people happy or trying to make people better."
God wants to make us better, not just happy.