How positive do you need to be to have a happy relationship? To have a successful company?



For a good relationship, you need five positive statements for every negative one.

Good companies need three to one.

Going above thirteen to one makes you lose credibility.

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

“We go into companies and transcribe every word that is said in their business meetings. We have done this in sixty companies. One-third of the companies are flourishing economically, one-third are doing okay, and one-third are failing. We code each sentence for positive or negative words, and then we take a simple ratio of positive to negative statements. “There is a sharp dividing line,” Barb continued. “Companies with better than a 2.9: 1 ratio for positive to negative statements are flourishing. Below that ratio, companies are not doing well economically. We call this the ‘Losada ratio,’ named after my Brazilian colleague Marcel Losada, who discovered this fact.


Law is the profession with the highest depression, suicide, and divorce rates. If your colleagues take that office ratio home, they are in trouble. John Gottman computed the same statistic by listening to couples’ conversations for entire weekends. A 2.9: 1 means you are headed for a divorce. You need a 5: 1 ratio to predict a strong and loving marriage— five positive statements for every critical statement you make of your spouse. A habit of 1: 3 in a couple is an unmitigated catastrophe.”


“But don’t go overboard with positivity. Life is a ship with sails and rudder. Above 13: 1, without a negative rudder, the positive sails flap aimlessly, and you lose your credibility.”

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