Unconditional Positive Regard is a method of relating that builds up self-worth and positive regard for the self and others.
Students on campus are finding UPR beneficial, both personally and professionally.
UPR is kindness in action. It’s characterized by giving feedback with a positive comment first, addressing the action that requires improvement and finishing with another positive comment.
“I’ve had it used on me before. It has helped to build strong character,” Desmond Hooks, staff member at the SUB Games Center, said. “I do believe it works when it is used correctly.”
Students are regularly presented with situations personally and professionally that require dealing with others’ negative behavior. Not having the ability to maneuver through these occurrences in a healthy way leads to discontentment, resentment or other negative feelings towards others.
Negativity was not always a bad thing though. There was a point during human evolution where humans would use the negative in order to protect themselves from harm or danger. Now it is not so simple.
Mary Pritchard, a psychology professor at Boise State, explained that the negativity people experience now is much more harmful than what humans encountered during evolution.
“If something bad is happening now, usually it is caused by something that is not going to kill you—it is social comparison, judgment, discrimination or even stereotyping,” Pritchard said. “It is something that is not threatening but still very emotionally scarring.”
In order to maintain healthy relationships at work and school, students should learn and implement UPR in their everyday lives.
As described on the website, “Simply Psychology,” UPR was introduced by Dr. Carl Rogers in 1956. Rogers explained that UPR is a valuable tool to restore self-worth and positive regard in others.
If the UPR user does not embrace the idea behind the theory, UPR will not work. For students and parents, less criticism is paramount. It is especially helpful for students who struggle with challenging interactions involving difficult classmates, professors or even roommates with whom they cohabitate.
The opposite of UPR is Conditional Positive Regard. It is the idea that people are valued only if they can live up to the expectations or conditions set by others. It is necessary to keep in mind that kindness is more important than blaming or shaming.
Other students on campus are using UPR to reduce harmful criticism while working with others in a professional way.
“If I was looking at someone else’s program or coding, maybe I would criticize it but then also offer positive feedback as well,” said Brendon Tierney, computer science major.
According to Dr. Stephen Joseph, professor of psychology, health and social care at the University of Nottingham, UK and writer for “Psychology Today,” UPR is about respecting others enough to allow them to act regardless of danger or dysfunction, and accept that they are doing their best.
“From there you can come from a place of understanding and compassion rather than blame and criticism,” Pritchard said. “The more you do that, the better you feel about yourself, the better you feel about your life and the easier it is to be a more positive person towards others.”
The better we can relate to others, the better off we will all be. Instead of propagating negativity, students should think about how they respond to other’s behavior and work to improve their own.