The One Sentence That Improves Effort By 40%

What if a teacher could use one short sentence to almost magically raise students’ results? What if we could adopt the same logic and apply it to our own endeavors? We can. All it takes are 19 words:
I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.
In an experiment with middle school essay writers, writing these words on a well-corrected draft produced 40% more revisions and a significantly improved final result than students who received corrections without the sentence. 
How could a single sentence be so powerful? By creating a sense of belonging and connection. Here’s what we can do to see a similar lift with those we work with and for. 
As Daniel Coyle points out in The Culture Code, the phrase tells students that:
  1. They are part of a special group,
  2. The group abides by higher standards, 
  3. And the teacher believes they can reach those standards. 

The simple sentence is confidence-building. It’s normalizing. It’s powerful. And we can easily borrow from it. The format is: 

  1. Establish a group identity,
  2. Establish how/where/why the group has a higher standard,
  3. And encourage them to rise to those standards. 
There is no faking this – it has to be authentic – but the results and the method are real. As Seth Godin says, there is great power in the idea that “people like us do things like this.” When our people feel like they belong and are connected to each other, it is amazing what we can accomplish together. 

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