The Key To a Better World?
Start Encouraging Others
March 19, 2022
It is easy to feel discouraged these days. War has broken out in Ukraine and threatens to destabilize relationships among nations globally. The COVID pandemic, while it has lessened in severity of late, has brought much stress and even tragedy to our day-to-day lives the last two years. The economy continues to struggle, leading to uncertainty about the future for many people.
That’s the challenging news. The hopeful news is that the time has never been better to do our part to help each other weather the storms we’re experiencing. And one of the best places to begin doing that is by encouraging each other.
Words of encouragement, like drops of water to a withering flower, are drops of grace that can calm, soothe, and bring hope, to a bruised spirit. Encouraging others not only helps them move beyond their crucibles, it can actually help them avoid crucibles.
But how can we encourage others, and what is the power that is unleashed when we do? Try putting these seven tips into action as you aim to become more intentional in your efforts to encourage others:
1. Pay Attention.
With people at work, with your family and friends, with people you meet, be aware of what is going on. Have an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. Have a mindset that if something good happens and someone does something praiseworthy, you will actually notice.
2. If You See Something, Say Something.
Quite often with our work colleagues or our friends and family, we will see someone do something we appreciate. We will think, “That is so nice! That was kind! That was really wonderful!” But then we say nothing. If we see someone do something good or display character that is praiseworthy, we have to speak up. It is easy to say nothing. If we would like others to encourage us, let’s first treat others in the way we would like to be treated.
3. Be Specific.
Don’t just say, “You did a great job!,” or “You are a nice person!” That’s OK, but frankly not great. The other person is thinking, “What does that mean? Where did I do a great job? Why am I a nice person?” If the person is a co-worker, or someone else at work perhaps even your boss, tell them specifically why what they did was good, how it helped you or your team on the job. If it’s a friend or loved one, let them know how an act of thoughtfulness and kindness or some other helpful thing they did meant so much to you. Do not take your friends and loved ones for granted. The more specific, in both instances, the better. The same with their character. Give them examples that show why they were such a nice person. The difference between a general comment that someone is a nice person, as against giving them examples that show how kind and thoughtful, they were is enormous.
4. Tell Others.
We are often told that we should not gossip about other people. If we have something to say that is negative, we should tell it to them directly, hopefully in a somewhat tactful fashion. But if we really admire another person, telling others about it as well as the person themselves is a helpful thing to do. It is actually something the person being praised would really appreciate. It may even get back to them. “I have heard so many people tell me how efficient, how hard-working and how productive you are.” If some of those people are their bosses, that is all the better.
5. Give Positive Feedback Often.
Just because you told one person once they were doing a good job and why that was the case, it does not mean you are done. Have an attitude of gratitude, as they say. Be on the lookout for specific instances where you can praise them. Giving a person positive feedback over time with specific examples can make an enormous difference.
6. Be Sincere.
When you praise someone for the job they are doing or their character, it has to be sincere. Giving false praise, such as telling someone they are doing a good job, when they know they haven’t, will only make things worse. They will resent you, and potentially feel guilty and feel bad about themselves. You might be too busy to know how they are doing in their job performance, and might throw around generic praises. That is not helpful. Encouragement must be specific, but it also must be genuine.
7. The Power of Encouragement.
Encouragement can change the world. Encouragement can make people feel valued. It can make them feel seen and heard. It can motivate them to work harder, believe in the mission of the organization more. It can improve relations with friends and family. It can make an enormous difference. It can have a multiplication effect. If you model encouragement to others, they might over time encourage other people, who in turn will encourage still others. Maybe some of those other people will turn around and encourage you. That is not why you should encourage others, but it may be a nice byproduct.
Our world is hurting. People are in pain, even feeling broken. Encouragement lifts people up; it can have a healing effect. It can bind people together. It can lead to still others being encouraged. It can calm fears, ease burdens, and bring hope amid challenges. Isn’t this the world we want to live in?
- Think of someone you want to encourage.
- Think specifically why what they did or who they are is praiseworthy.
- Say something to them this week!