Positive reinforcement never hurt anyone

I am competitive, I am critical, and I judge. I can always find room for improvement or an area someone can work on. I have previously advocated for constructive criticism for casters – I said that we need to move past the flame and on to something that can help people improve. I heard an amazing cast from Durka and Motpax the other day, and I realized there is another side to this; we do not always need to be critical to help others improve.

Positive reinforcement never hurt anyone.

Think about that. Do you lose anything by complimenting someone? Will this have a negative impact on your life? There is nothing to lose by telling someone they are doing a good job. I am not talking just about casters here. Streamers, hosts, writers, anyone who is essentially providing you a service for your enjoyment. In general, compliments are just a way to be nice, and there isn’t anything wrong with being nice. Compliments give people confidence, and helps them continue to do well. To be completely honest though, I am not advocating positive reinforcement for the nice aspect, I believe in more selfish goals.

These people are your entertainment. We spend a lot of time getting our fill of esports, we are reliant on other people to keep us busy. I personally want these people to entertain me how I prefer to be entertained. Constructive criticism is one way to steer people towards what you want, but what about that positive reinforcement?

Here is an example. I may have a few songs on my playlist that you absolutely hate, and let’s be honest, the more you whine about it, the more I will probably play them because I resent you trying to control my stream. However, if there are songs of a style you prefer and you compliment those, I see something I can do to make my stream a more pleasing place. Instead of pissing me off by questioning my music choice, you are offering me a gentle incentive to shift the music to something you would enjoy more.

People are defensive. People in the public eye need to demonstrate they cannot be pushed around or influenced by “random 12 year olds on the internet.” The most well intentioned criticisms can be easily ignored using that justification. But who gets defensive when you compliment them?

A compliment will probably always be received better than a criticism, and will likely be more effective in communicating your point. It can be hard to compliment someone when they are doing something that annoys you, this is where selfishness comes in. If a caster constantly tells boring personal stories (or the current fad of our hate on excessive meming), find a moment where they shout casted an amazing team fight, or analyzed an item choice really well. Point out that with a very sly “You stayed focussed on the game so well here, it was one of my favorite moments in your casting.” This gives a caster incentive to cover the game and leave their own life out of it.

What else? Everyone is frustrated with “click-bait” or sensationalist titles, but telling the writer that the article let you down as compared to the title will just lead them to the “What do random people know, I’m the writer, I’m right.” Think if you tell that writer that the topic was really interesting, you wish you could read even more about it. This gives the writer the information that people would appreciate more depth and information without putting them on the defensive.

Everyone can improve; we are all constantly learning. Positive reinforcement can help to encourage that learning and keep people motivated. It can also serve as a nicer way to steer someone away from behaviors and styles you don’t like.

There’s nothing wrong with being selfish and there is nothing wrong with being nice. There is no reason you cannot be both.

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