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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Book Report

In 1950, Don Clifton realized that the field of Psychology was more focused on what is wrong with people, rather than what is right with people. Don and his colleagues discovered that our lives are shaped by our interactions with people. Every interaction makes a difference, and the results are rarely neutral with more positive and negative outcomes.

In 2002, Don Clifton’s work was recognized by the American Psychological Association making him the Father of Strengths Psychology. During a battle with terminal cancer Don kept a positive demeanor. The book was created through a collaboration with Tom Rath and Don Clifton while he was going through chemotherapy. Don spent his life trying to make the world a better place through his research, business, and his books.

Don Clifton created the theory of the “Dipper and the Bucket”. Each of us has a bucket that is full or empty depending on our interactions. When the bucket is empty we fill awful. Each of us has a dipper used to fill another’s bucket to make us feel fulfilled, while some take from other’s buckets that diminishes ourselves. A full bucket gives us a positive outlook. An empty bucket undermines our will and generates a negative outlook.



  1. Relentless negativity resulted in a 38% POW death rate-the highest in U.S. military history. “Give up-it is: A lack of resistance, a passivity.”I chose this statement as I feel it encompasses the overall feel of the chapter. That giving up, due to negative attitudes can have major consequences.
  2. The #1 reason people leave their jobs: They don’t feel appreciated. “Individuals who receive regular recognition and praise are more productive.” I chose this statement because the chapter reminded me of people in my work that are productive. It seems like a cycle of praise and continuous productivity.
  3. Bad bosses could increase the risk of stroke by 33%. “When employees work for a boss that they do not like, they have higher blood pressure, on average.” The statements are sustainable by research studies. This makes it undeniable.
  4. The cost of disengagement: $250-$300 billion per year. “Negative workers are expensive and prevalent at 22 million people and billions in cost”. I chose this statement because negative emotions have a strong correlation to productivity, which costs business a lot of money when it is low.
  5. A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with-for good. “It’s a serious problem when employees are dipping from customer’s buckets.” This statement shows that some employees with bad attitudes can affect the performance of the group and as a result, scare away customers.
  6. 60% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year. “Sincere recognition increases morale of any organization” Recognition lacks sincerity in most cases making it feel like a sham. The important thing to note here is that recognition should be sincere.
  7. 9 out of 19 people say they are more productive when they are around positive people. “Having a positive environment isn’t enough. Creating a culture that encourages positivity between others is a necessity” Creating a positive environment can help to develop a better productivity and raise the level of success.
  8. We experience approximately 20,000 individual moments every day. “The memorable moments are almost always positive or negative” According to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, strong memories are defined by our recollection of a precise point in time, positive or negative, neutral encounters rarely stay in your mind.
  9. The magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. “Experts are finding that the frequency of small, positive acts is critical”. Only a few moments are significant, so making them positive has a better outlook.
  10. Too much positive emotion? More than 13 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction could decrease productivity. “Studies found that workgroups with positive-to-negative interaction ratios, greater than 3 to 1 are significantly more productive than teams that do not reach this ratio.” According to Fredrickson and Losada’s mathematical modeling of ratios for positive to negative suggest that rations higher than 13 to 1 can be worse. When the ratio is lower it is more successful.
  11. Extending longevity: Increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years. “Positive emotions can buffer us against adverse health effects and depression.” Thousands of studies have revealed the damaging results of stress, anger, and hostility on the mind and body can lead to serious health problems.

Nature vs. Nurture has significant factors in positivity. Some people may be predisposed to negative emotions like depression, while others may be predisposed to overabundance of happy emotions, like endorphins.

An example of personalized bucket filling is saying the good things about people while they are alive, versus eulogizing only when they are gone. A focus on positive encouragement based in education helped Tom open a business when he was 12 that became very successful.

Many of Tom’s friends experienced negative emotions as soon they walked through the door after school. This became common and explains why his friends spent so much time at his house when they were growing up.

One size does not fit all, when it comes to positive reinforcement. If you want  people to understand that you value their contribution, the praise you provide must have specific meaning.

  1. Prevent Bucket Dipping: develop a habit of asking myself if I am adding or taking from another’s bucket in my interactions.
  2. Shine a Light on the What is Right: Pay attention to, call out to things that are good and done well. For people I do not like I can focus on things I do like about them.
  3. Make Best Friends: Make an effort to form deeper friendships.
  4. Give Unexpectedly: a majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected. I will more unexpected gift.
  5. Reverse the Golden Rule: I will think more about my actions and make my interactions more individualized.

I try to have a positive thought toward a new day at work. I like having a planned schedule of my activities for each day of the week.

I try to limit my discussions around very personal things to keep my relationships with my coworkers professional. Address concerns when they come up rather than waiting because communication establish bonds with more integrity.

I think being a little bit late is ok as long as the work is done. Following the rules makes for a better work environment.

Being a conscientious worker means a responsible, thoughtful hard worker employee that cares about his performance and the performance of his peers.

Being loyal to an organization means doing the right things, and understanding difficult decisions will be made, and working towards embracing change. Keeping in mind and upholding the mission and values of the company.

Respect everybody no matter the ethnicity, country of origin, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and everything else that makes us unique. As long as the differences don’t affect others physically or mentally. Always have an ethical and professional behavior and be aware when others are uncomfortable. I Don’t tolerate sexual harassment or any kind of harassment. People should feel comfortable at work, while respect each other.


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