In the early 1900s, a work productivity experiment was conducted at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago. The experiment attempted to identify how changes in the physical work environment impacted productivity. Certain workers were told they were being studied. The volunteers were told to work under increased illumination – and to nobody’s surprise, productivity went up. What was more surprising was that when the illumination was decreased, productivity remained high.

Researchers concluded that productivity remained high due to the fact that the test subjects knew they were being observed. On some level, that is true (nobody wants to look bad when they’re in the spotlight). However, it is not the full explanation.

Participants in the Hawthorne study increased their productivity because they got positive feedback from the researchers.

Positive feedback has been shown to be much more effective in altering behavior than punishment, shame or other forms of negative feedback.

Positive feedback leads to increased effort, increased work satisfaction and better results – a fulfillment of the experimenters’ expectations.

How can you use the Hawthorne Effect to improve a relationship? Simply expect more. That’s not to say you should start hounding your partner to take up the slack in the housework or to nag your partner about “doing something with their life.” It’s an expectation that is given almost unconsciously, by raising the bar on yourself.

The best way to encourage and empower someone to be their best, is to be the best that you can be. Of course you don’t want to engage the ego: “I’m taking care of myself, therefore I’m better than you.” Just encourage in a loving way: “Hey, let’s go for a walk together. It’s gorgeous outside and I’d love your company.”

Encouraging your partner with praise, appreciation, smiles and positive feedback is a wonderful subtle way to get them to change their behavior. Instead of “Would you please drag yourself away from your football game and help me clean out the garage? I’ve only asked you twenty times already!” you could say, “Hey, I really appreciate how you helped me organize the basement last month. Do you think we could tackle the garage together this weekend?” And then appreciate the effort! Everyone wants to be appreciated! Everyone wants to have their efforts acknowledged!

Belief in your partner’s potential, abilities, talents, cooperation and partnership skills will show up in your verbal and nonverbal communication.

Even if your partner isn’t living up to your expectations yet, keep at it. Act “as if” with yourself and with your partner.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is.  Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Article Author: Smiljan Mori is the founder of MindOver™ Network, Brilliant solutions for Performance, Motivation and Happiness. He is also the creator of Big U Academy, the Kitepreneur NetworkTM and Kitepreneur Lifestyle Academy. He has literally created a successful business and coaching empire from scratch and is a best-selling author and motivational speaker who brings unparalleled professional experience and the latest scientific research from neuroscience and positive psychology to audiences around the globe. He has shown more than 150,000 people from 50 countries how to change their lives for the better.

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Article References:
Motivaction For Life by Smiljan Mori

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