How Full Is Your Bucket?

Have you ever been in a great mood and found that a brief interaction with another person ruined your day? If so, then you're bucket may have been emptied. How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, is based on the theory that all people have a bucket. This bucket varies from full to empty based on our encounters with other people. Positive encounters fill our buckets, while negative encounters empty them.

Rath and Clifton suggest that employees with empty buckets create customers with empty buckets. They say, "Although we need and want recognition and praise, the fact is, we don't get enough—and organizations suffer because of it." They also present information based on recent surveys. Using data from a recent Gallup Poll, they report the following, "Individuals who receive regular recognition and praise: increase their individual productivity; increase engagement among their colleagues; are more likely to stay with their organization; receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers; have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job." Rath and Clifton note that it is likely for immediate results to be seen when managers begin spreading even the smallest amounts of praise.


Donald O. Clifton, who died in 2003, has been referred to by the American Psychological Association as "the grandfather of positive psychology." Coincidentally, he is actually the grandfather of his co-author, Tom Rath. Prior to his death, Clifton held the position of chair at Gallup, Inc. His grandson, is the Global Practice Leader for Strengths-Based Development at Gallup, Inc. Their book, How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, may be a useful guide to help you ensure that people fill your bucket—not dip into it.

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