Pluses (+) and EBIs

For years, I taught a class on motivation for Saint Louis University. The students were mostly working adults pursuing undergraduate degrees.

Living the belief that moment-by-moment, we are all “teachers and learners”, there was a discussion post last spring about what the student called “+’s and EBIs”.

These are an example of “guiding principles” that her department uses to inform behavior in meetings.

The student explained the two guidelines like this:

We have something in our department called “+’s and EBIs”. This is a standard in our group, and I find that it helps set the tone in meetings and other conversations.

After a conflict or at the end of a meeting, you start the critique or feedback conversation with the Plus (+). For example:

“Elizabeth, you had some great points in the meeting. In the future, it would certainly help if we could work more in tandem. I agree that will make our team more efficient.”

Then you discuss the EBIs (Even Better Ifs):

“Charles, the conversation would have been even better if you could have brought some examples to the group as opposed to just expressing your anger when conflict arose.”

The idea behind +’s and EBIs is that they combine positive feedback with opportunities for growth as opposed to giving someone the occasion to feel defensive and act accordingly triggered by the fact that he or she was critiqued publicly.

I share this because groups, departments, and even entire organizations are often either in the criticize-and-aggression (hard fight) or the passive-aggressive (soft fight) mode.

Using +’s and EBIs provides a positive alternative that may contribute to a healthier climate and more productive environment for the people who inhabit the organization.