Yes, each of us has a choice: to criticise or encourage, to focus on criticism or focus on encouragement.
Personally, I’ve learned to listen much more to those who encourage me. Criticism has far more impact (up to 10 times) than encouragement as we seem programmed to be far more sensitive to threat and danger. And critics are two-a-penny, probably because it takes so little thought to be one.
So take up the challenge of mega-encouragement. Ask yourself: does this person need more judgement or more courage? It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it!
The most powerful comments you can make, negative and positive, lock into these three categories: PERSONAL, PERVASIVE and PERMANENT.
PERSONAL: It is about THEM. Make your encouragement very personal. Generalised encouragement is fine “Well done, everyone!” but personal is so much stronger: a handwritten card of congratulations, a phone call to express you appreciation. And use their NAME, not words like ‘my friend’, ‘mate’, etc. The most precious word a person hears is their name.
PERVASIVE: It goes beyond their current situation into every part of their life. Notice several areas of their life where an attribute is gaining strength. “I love your commitment to living with integrity” [pervasive] is much better than “At least you accept that you’ve messed up here.”[local]
PERMANENT: “You’ve always cared for others and you always will. That doesn’t change because you forgot to make that appointment.”
So do yourself, your friends, and the world in general a favour by moving your whole philosophy of life a step towards the Encouragement Platform, and make your input personal, pervasive and permanent. After all, a person like you who reads this for into a blog already has a head start in making this a regular part of their life. 😉
Here are some practical encouragers – even when you disagree with what a person has done, you can help them change by using these phrases:
“Keep going! Someone who is as sensitive/determined/committed as you [personal] will always [permanent] get there in the end.”
“You’re great. I know you [personal] – you’ll find a way through anything [pervasive] eventually – it’s in your nature [permanent].”
“I love your unique [personal] determined attitude. You’re the sort of person who can’t help but improve [permanent] – whatever you put your hand to [pervasive] – even when you make mistakes. I really like that.”
“How is it you’ve come as far as you have?! The fact you’ve come this far only goes to prove you’re a strong person underneath [personal]. You’ll make it through to your goals.”
“You’re a fast learner [non-specific, therefore pervasive], and don’t need anyone to tell you when you’ve messed up, least of all me. I’ve messed up myself too many times to lecture anyone else.”
Personally I’m a better person for having a impromptu funeral service for my mistakes – as soon as possible after they become evident. I mourn their passing and look back months later on what they taught me in the short time they were alive. I don’t need anyone to dig up their remains. For really significant catastrophes, when I have messed up big time, I want people to help me leave the graveyard, recover from the overdose of human error and live life with courage again, so I tend to surround myself with such people and keep the others further out. (People who invest a lot in each day, as I tend to do, are the very first people to know just how big the impending disaster is going to be. They don’t need ANYONE else to tell them!)
Endorsement, approval, kindness, and encouragement. Spew tons of those powerful motivators into the world and I’ll be MUCH more useful to those around me when they come my way!
So will you.