They sat at the table, preparing for a phone call with their website designer. One by one, they enumerated all the problems with the site so as not to forget anything. The team member taking notes sat back for a minute and thought about the site as a whole. She visualized the new site, and saw there was a lot that was right about it. She asked the group if they thought so, too, and invited some feedback on what was working. There were quite a few things.
The mood of the gathering changed and became more appreciative. People were smiling instead of frowning.
There's a facilitator's tool called the Plus-Delta, often employed to evaluate the effectiveness of team meetings. The Plus column is a list of what worked about the meeting -- great room, stuck to the agenda, etc.
The Delta column -- from the Greek alphabet letter, delta, used in mathematics as a symbol for change -- lists anything the team might do differently, such as clarifying issues in advance, increasing accountability, etc., to make for a more purposeful meeting next time.
Look for the Good
In effect, the website team was using the Plus-Delta model in advance of their call. Why?
- They wanted to start the call with the designer on a positive footing, and make sure the designer knew they saw not only the site's problems but its positive features as well.
- They realized that starting the call with problems might create an adversarial quality to it.
- When you look for the good, you find it. By focusing on the website's pluses, they showed their appreciation for the designer's positive intent, which made it easier for her to hear the deltas when they came up.
Personal and Professional
Professionally, I use the Plus-Delta model all the time. For example:
- With groups -- How did this session go? What worked? What would you have me do differently?
- With coaching clients -- I ask them to keep a conflict journal. Each time a conflict arises, what were the pluses about how they handled themselves? What would they do differently next time?
Personally, I use it all the time, too. It keeps my inner critic at bay and helps me to appreciate what went well about that:
- Coaching session
- Difficult conversation with my friend/loved one
We're inventing our lives one ki moment at a time. Whether looking in at yourself or outward at others, keep the Plus-Delta model in mind.
The deltas are easy to find. For many reasons having to do with nature and nurture, we're wired to find them. The next time you walk away from a meeting, conversation, or interaction evaluating how it went, first look for a Plus. Ask yourself a question like: What went well? What did I appreciate about that interaction?
Finding the pluses takes practice--but it's worth it. When we look for the good, we live more appreciative, grateful lives.