Praise the good. Ignore the bad. – James Clear
When someone encourages you, it has to be one of the best feelings possible. A kind word that uplifts can shift the trajectory of someone’s life. The most significant memories that we have can be a time when someone we respect spoke words that brought life to us.
At the same time, we know that saying something negative to someone can carry much more weight than an encouraging word. The anecdotal reflection of it taking nine encouraging comments to overcome one negative comment certainly rings true. Which makes encouragement all the more important.
So how do we do it?
You can’t just make up stuff that you don’t mean and expect it to land well. People can tell if you are being genuine or not and building someone up only works if what you are saying about them is true. If you are struggling to find something to be encouraging about, that’s on you to figure out. Every person around us has something worthwhile to recognize and are providing value to our lives. It just takes a moment to stop and find it sometimes.
“You look nice today” is nice to hear but that is not encouragement. There is no depth to that. Come up with something that carries meaning to the person.
“I like the way that you think” – is more about who the person is over what they do. This is a fundamental way to encourage people just for being them.
“You have made two really great decisions this week, and this is what they are…” – Recognising great behaviour is an easy way to encourage. The more specific the better.
“I am really grateful for your positive attitude. Knowing that I can rely on you makes my day easier” – Showing how someone’s behaviour or attitude makes a positive impact on you highlights how important they are.
Don’t wait. When someone does something worth noticing, do it in the moment or shortly afterwards. It’s a little difficult to feel encouraged about something that happened 10 years ago. In saying that, it’s never too late, so if that’s all that you have, feel free to encourage someone about something that they did 10 years ago.
Don’t save it up to give it all in a once off overload of encouragement. Plant small seeds of encouragement consistently which will create a culture of encouragement around you.
Encouragement is an amazing act of generosity. It costs you nothing, apart from some brain energy, and the benefits to all involved are significant.