You Can Catch More “Yes’” With Honey Than With Vinegar

When it comes to performance improvements, you can catch more “yes’” with honey than you can with vinegar.

By this I simply mean that positive reinforcement and supportive coaching will improve results faster and with more lasting results than what some people try to disguise as “constructive criticism.” Call it what you will, criticism is still criticism. Even if it has the intentions of being constructive, it still has the underlying message of “You are wrong and, in some cases, dumb.”  No one enjoys being wrong and certainly not made to feel dumb or stupid.


The old-school method of coaching, telling people what they need to improve on, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It’s doing so because when you TELL a person what they are doing wrong, then you as the coach continue to own that process of improvement. I say this because if you (as the coach) are the one identifying what you feel the Conversational Marketing Expert (CME)  is doing wrong, then you are the only one who has completely bought into that theory or idea of what needs improved.

The better way – the “honey” – is a positive style of collaborative coaching between the coach and the Conversational Marketing Expert (CME). It’s a process where the coach and the Conversational Marketing Expert listen to recorded conversations together. Both people identify things that the CME is doing really well, and they celebrate them together. Not only do they celebrate them together, but they also have a short conversation about why those positives are positive and what benefit they serve in the CME’s presentation and, ultimately, their performance. Expanding into this level of conversation about the positives will not only reinforce them, but it will also strengthen the behavior by creating a deeper understanding of why those tactics work so well (and yield such great results).

In addition, the coach and CME discuss the things in the conversations or presentations that need improvement – things that the CME would like to be better at. During this process, they mutually agree upon a handful of “challenges” that the CME will work on until the next coaching session. During this part of the process, it’s important that the coach helps the CME understand the benefit of making these improvements and also helps them see the benefit of the improvement (or what success looks like) once these challenges have been accomplished. It’s this style of collaborative coaching that takes the ownership of the improvements from the coach and allows them to be solely owned by the Conversational Marketing Expert. Once the CME takes ownership of his/her own success and improvement plan, the real change and lasting change begins!

This is a basic blueprint for a better and more positive way of coaching and improving performance. It’s a skill that takes time and effort to master – for the coach as well as for the CME. It’s a more effective process for coaches, one that empowers the CME and leads to increased job performance and morale at all levels or positions in the contact center.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember, as a coach, you are coaching other humans – humans with feelings and emotions. When you can master the art of treating people well, building their self-esteem, encouraging their growth, celebrating their successes and helping lead them to challenges that will result in real performance improvements, you will see amazing increases (performance, morale) and decreases (turnover, call-off percentages). Challenge yourself today to compliment one person on their job performance. Be specific and detailed when explaining why that complimented behavior is so great, and then just watch what happens!