As we strive to love each other better, let us remember the power of encouragement and the meaning it can hold for those in our lives.
Here are 5 Ways to Encourage Others
1. Make it specific and meaningful.
Instead of generic praise, think of encouragement specific to the person you want to encourage. Phrases like, “you can do it,” and “you’ll get through it,” may be true, but dig deeper to offer that person some meaningful encouragement. Think about that person, are they good at handling conflict or not so much? Instead of “you can do it,” try:
You have handled uncomfortable conflict before and been really brave in doing so. You know once it’s over you will feel better. OR
Dealing with conflict is really difficult for you, as it is for most of us. Just focus on the importance of doing this for yourself and how relieved and proud you will feel once you have gotten over that mountain.
Focus on what their strengths are and use that to encourage them.
2. Be honest.
Often, when people ask for feedback we want to make sure we preserve their feelings. We default to polite comments. However, this is not always going to yield the best outcome for the person seeking our advice of encouragement. I am incredibly grateful to those who have been honest with me when it would be easier to say something to pacify me. In fact, those earnest words have given me more encouragement and direction in confusing times than any amount of hugs or praise would ever had.
3. Don’t expect anything in return.
You may go out of your way to encourage another and never hear a word of thanks in return. Continue to encourage others anyway. You may have supported a friend through a dark time and never hear one word of praise for your sisterhood. Continue to encourage others anyway. It is not about what you get, it is all about what you give.
4. Just Listen.
Sometimes people just need to talk. The cathartic act of speaking their heart. It may be that they are not looking for a “fix.” It’s not always about what we have to say as much as it is about being generous with our time and ear.
5. Make it a habit.
About a year ago, I challenged myself with encouraging at least one person a day – in a meaningful way – for one month. Sometimes it was a quick text message, other times a handwritten note and when time permitted a leisurely phone call. It was a good reminder that this life is not all about me. It opened my eyes to the wonderful qualities the people in my life possessed, because I would pause before reaching out to them and really think about how either they inspire me with their qualities or the way I see them shine their light in the world.
I have fallen out of that habit of daily encouraging, but from time to time the notion pops into my head and I jump on it immediately. Instead of getting around to it later (or never) I drop that quick line to let my mom know, “You were always so good about letting me be creative. Thank you for your patience with me!” or to tell my friend, “I know this week has been rough, but you are an awesome mom. Don’t be discouraged! You pushed a human being out of your vagina – you can do ANYTHING!”
See? It doesn’t all have to be so serious.
Encouragement can be fun too!
And for you, I leave you with this encouragement:
Fear is a dirty liar.
You are capable and brave of more than you are currently daring to believe.