Add Positivity Into Your Testing

I read a medium post recently that referenced something @friendlytester said at RTC:

It sparked a lot of ideas for me. This or a variation of this is something I see come up often

How do you stay positive testing when you feel like you’re mostly bringing bad news?

The author of the above post admits to being one of these people, struggling to find the positivity. Some answers to this may seem very obvious but when you’re in that negative headspace, it can be very difficult to see the good.

So my request for you: how would you advise people to bring positivity into their testing? I appreciate there is no one size fits all model but some suggestions for people to try would be an awesome start.

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I really do like the idea that I’m a copy editor. I’m not telling devs bad news, I’m making them look good.

Other than that, it can get really hard. I find it really hard sometimes when I’m the one asking the hard questions and pointing out things that can go wrong, so I try and communicate with my team outside of those things so that’s not my entire work persona. I also make sure to compliment people on work well done.


I’m already a very positive person and I have always looked at bugs as opportunities to learn something new. Mistakes are incredibly valuable as a resource to teach others on things to avoid. Reframing is key here its easy to make a problem bigger than it is and its better to just reflect there will be more bugs in the future.


I’ve always felt it was part of my job to be a quality advocate so I’ve never really been negative in my feedback. I actually did a talk at Leeds Tester gathering about a situation back in 2005 where both testers and developers were measured on bugs recorded. Everything became an argument so I dropped ‘bugs’ and started talking about behaviour and whether it was desirable or not.

Changing the language helped a lot and now it’s habit for me to use expressions like;
Can I confirm my understanding?
This isn’t quite what I expected?
Perhaps we could try…
Could I suggest an alternative?
It may be simpler / easier if we

In all cases they are suggestions of ‘us’ to do something. I had a conversation this morning about bugs and my dislike with another tester and framed it like this. If the software is under development and therefore unfinished, how can you tell someone its wrong? If you see a building with the roof still to go on it’s unfinished. You wouldn’t say there’s a bug in the house would you?

Maybe not the best analogy but hopefully you get the idea.


One of the things that I try to do is give feedback about the good as well as the bad. For example, “I love the extra feature you added,” or “This does exactly what I want it to” (Without following with a “but…” then the positive loses its positivity).

I get better feedback when my feedback includes questions. For example, the questions in @adrian.stokes post. (I especially like “Can I confirm my understanding?”)

I learned these techniques from a psycologist who encouraged me to use coaching techniques in my every day activities. I mention positives to lift the mood in the conversation, so that the less positive points, “by the way, there’s a bug” are dulled. I ask questions to let the recipients of your feedback feel that you are interested in what they are doing.


A great response from @ardesco on Slack:
you aren’t giving people bad news, you are helping make sure that when a product goes live everybody who uses it says “Wow this is awesome, they must have amazing developers” Remember if something doesn’t work the general public won’t say “Who tested this?” They will say “Who wrote this sh**???”

Our job is to make the developers look like gods!

Really like your phraseology suggestions as those first few opening words are critical to the overall tone your conversation is going to take.
The first one is my favourite because I am not 100% sure what I have found is a bug as it could be built in business logic not documented or my own misunderstandings of the acceptance criteria.
If it is a bug then we (the developer & I) sort it quickly and without too much fuss which is a way I find to bring a positive note to my involvement.


I consciously choose to be a positive tester. I’m the bearer of the bad news most of the time so taking that role might not seem easy.

Pretty straight forward thing to do is to actually give praise when thing contain few or no bugs. Also quick and nice bug fixes or releases deserve praise.

One of the main things I do is talk to developers as if they were human. I know this sounds strange, but bear with me. Say ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good evening’. Ask how they are and if you can help them in any way.
These easy things, make you a positive person they like to work with. The work you do, doesn’t define you as a person. Decouple the negative work from the positive person.

Another thing is getting involved. Solve an issue “together”. Demo the problem, think along, help them find a solution. You might not know the in and outs of a programming language, trying is everything. In the same line I talk in the ‘We’-form.
“If we resolve this and this issue, I think the quality is pretty okay”. Even when you didn’t do anything but point out the issue, you still helped.

These things didn’t come naturally to me. But I faked it till it became natural to me and now I do it all the time, with positive results!

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Interesting points you made as I was thinking along the same lines this weekend
I had been thinking about did we need manners or are they antiquated in this digital age we live in. Have a read, see what you think?

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This is very interesting topic and here is my thoughts:

  • If someone asks about the job description of a tester, then most of the people gives a common reply that job of a tester is to find bugs. Nobody would like if someone always find bugs in a decently build product and feel delighted in it.
  • Anyone can criticize a testing profile. If we analyze the testing process profoundly by keeping apart such likes and dislikes, then we will get to distinguish that such negative opinions are not true always. We, as a tester, are adding positivity into the product development in various manner.
  • In software testing companies; software testers, QA, QCs are performing the testing tasks & assignments very well and alongside providing assistance to other techies also. It could be module knowledge sharing, technical session, query resolution, for other teams and so on.
  • Most of the time dev team gets stuck while trying to reproduce issues then testers are there to assist them for example, to setup instances, reproduce issue and verify the fix they have provided.
  • Team co-ordination also add positivity to the whole organization and prove you as a better resource who always think positively about the organization’s growth.
  • If a tester tests the fix whichever is provided and does not go through in around scenarios to find if build is working fine and later-on it proves to be a fatal reason in production that the build is failed. Hence by testing regression areas and making it quality oriented, tester is actually making the product look good.
  • We should comprehend the negative aspects of testing with a positive prospect, only then we understand that it is mandatory to avoid re-occurrence of future error.
  • A software tester got negative knockers for finding major to minor glitches while ad-hoc testing. But, it is always good to find bugs prior to production. A bug in production might be the reason for project loss also.
  • Finding bugs is actually helping dev to polish their build before it is released to client. Hence its a win - win situation for both tester as well as developer.
  • Our priority should be a positive testing by making negative aspects interesting too.
  • QA team should use decent terminology while raising issues with dev team (e.g, rather than saying “This is wrong” they can say “few features do not seems to be working exactly as they should”, or while saying “You missed this” they can say that “we should also include this”. This way they can build a positive environment within the organization.

Hope this is helpful.