As I was walking through the halls of church this morning putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s setup, I ran into a mom who brightened my day. It was a very brief encounter, but what she said was full of encouragement. As I walked away with wind in my sails, I thought about the power of encouragement.
Here are a few ideas for encouraging others:
Catch them in the Act
Everyone likes their work to be noticed. A toddler will bring you a piece of paper that looks like a crayon box threw up on it, just to say “Look what I did!” It’s in our DNA to be recognized for what we do. If you want to encourage others, try to catch them in the act of doing something well.
Praise Them in Front of Others
The mom that spoke to me this morning shared how she was also talking with another mom…about me! That’s not always a good thing, but this time it was. It really encouraged me that they both thought enough of my actions to have it be a topic of conversation. If you want to encourage others, hold them up as an example of excellence in front of their peers. This will breed more excitement and determination in everyone because they see that you value their contribution.
Use Brief Comments
I typically think of encouragement as being a card, an email, or a gift. The reality is that personally delivering a few encouraging words is much more effective. The conversation I had was only 1 to 2 minutes long, but her words have given me energy for the day. It even prompted this post! If you want to encourage others, take a moment to speak words of encouragement to them. Gifts and awards are great, but don’t forget the power of your words.
Use Their Language
This is a tough one because it requires you to really get to know the person. Our staff has been learning about the differences in personality and how that affects communication. What we’ve learned is that each person receives encouragement differently. For example, if you told me that you were proud of how I kept a smile as I stacked boxes, I would not be very encouraged. I would thank you for your comment, but inside I would be thinking, “I stacked 482 boxes and all you saw was a smile??” This is because my personality type places a high emphasis on dedication and achievement, not so much on feelings or sensory. A better word of encouragement for me would be, “Thank you for all your help. I saw how many boxes you stacked, and I just want you to know that it means a lot to me. You worked very hard, and I appreciate that.” Those words would be like manna from Heaven for me! The point is, if you want to encourage others, be observant and find out what really motivates them. Everyone has a root motivator that leads them to do whatever it is that they do. If you can find that root and speak specific encouragement to it, then your words will always resonate in the heart of the person.
How can you encourage others today?