Building people up. Positivity. Encouragement. It’s so easy to give and great to receive. An encouraging word is so much more motivating than criticism. It’s all in the way that we frame the conversation, the tone of our voice and the way that we make people feel.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know that I love lists so here’s 5 Simple Ways to Practice Encouragement:
1. Listen. Sometimes people simply need someone to listen. Not to problem solve or offer advice or suggestions. Active listening is a skill and it requires focus. When you are really listening to someone, the person speaking can feel that positive, focused energy.
2. Show empathy. There is so much going on in all of our lives and some people are better at asking for help than others. If you see a friend, family member or colleague struggling, show your support. Send an encouraging email or a handwritten card. Ask him or her for coffee or a walk. Even if the person doesn’t accept your invitation, they will feel good knowing that others care about them and that there is help available when they are ready to receive it.
3. Be kind. Kindness counts! A smile and a hug go a long way. You never know whose life you may be affecting by simply offering your kindness without expecting anything in return. A few simple ways to show kindness can include opening the door for a mom at preschool that has her hands full, offering to return the shopping cart for an elderly person at the grocery store, calling your friend to congratulate her on her promotion at work, offering to have your neighbor’s kids come over for a playdate so the parents can go on a date night.
4. Be a team builder at work, at home and in friendships. Team builders motivate others by pointing out their strengths, not harping on their weaknesses. If you are skilled in one area, then take that on and let someone else take on the responsibilities that they naturally shine in. No one is perfect and everyone has areas in which they struggle. Try to focus on the good. Take a minute to tell someone you care about how great they are! When we are genuine with our compliments and praise, it shows.
5. Practice gratitude. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for a long time and I encourage the practice to everyone–young, middle-aged and old. When you end your day by writing down a list of 5 things, reasons and people you’re grateful for, you are generating positive energy and positive thoughts. It helps to be reflective of all that you have, especially when you are going through a difficult time. I try to keep up my gratitude practice year round because it helps me stay balanced, happy, grateful and appreciative of all the big and little things in my life that make me smile.
“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…” – Robert Fulghum
“Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in him and in his abilities. We are giving credit and praise.” – Gary Chapman
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.” – Jim Stovall
“Appreciation can make a day – even change a life, Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” – Margaret Cousins