09 Jul Five Steps to Better Encouragement of Others
We all love encouragement! Whether it is from your spouse or your teammate, we all need encouragement. Life can be hard and even brutal at times. As the Bible says, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Prov 15:23). Encouragement is a work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:8). Paul’s ministry was bolstered by encouraging the saints as he revisited the churches (Acts 20:2). Encouragement is a universal need, but it is often scarce or rationed.
Some are natural and generous at giving out encouragement. Others are natural at criticism! I would rather be around those who are good at encouragement. If you are like me, you to suffer often times from self-doubt and discouragement. A timely word can blow wind under your sails and move you forward. We would all benefit from improving our skills of encouragement.
There are ways to grow your ability to encourage people well. I have listed five ways to improve your encouragement of others:
- Recognize their contribution: Pay attention to how other people contribute to the success of the team. What makes them special? What would be missing if they were not there to offer their gift? Each person comes with a unique perspective and contribution. By recognizing the contribution, you validate who they are and what they bring. You elevate their place on the team. This is not always easy to recognize as someone’s contribution to the team may not be what you value. For example, you may be RED and value movement, but the GREEN person is bringing to the team needed detail and process. Their contribution may “feel” negative in that you may need to slow down the decision making in order to include their ideas. However, in the end, their contribution will make the team more successful. Don’t let your own MVS keep you from recognizing the contribution of others. It is easy to do. When you fail to recognize the contribution, you discourage your team. This goes for your spouse and children as well.
- Connect their contribution to their motivation: Each person who contributes to the team does so for a reason. This reason is the motivation for the contribution. In SDI we call this the Motivational Value System. When you connect the contribution to the reason the person has offered the contribution, you connect to the person’s heart and you hit a home run. For example, if the person points out a negative consequence for a specific group of people, you can simply recognize the insight and thank them for it. Or, you could connect their insight with their motivation to help people. You might say something like, “Your keen insight into how this decision will impact the children’s team will really help us to value them more effectively. Thank you for calling this to our attention so they are well cared for.” When you connect the contribution to the reason for the contribution, you connect to the heart of the person – what is most important to them.
- Be as specific as possible as to how they contributed: It is one thing to simply say that you appreciate what they did to bring about the success of the team, but it is another to be more specific in detailing exactly how they contributed. When you are specific rather than general, the encouragement becomes more concrete. This is especially true for GREENS who don’t think the encouragement is valid unless it is specific. But this is true of all of us. By taking the time to be more specific, we emphasis their unique contribution and validate their gift. When you do this, your leadership and charisma increase as well. Your team will see you as a more competent leader who values each member.
- Deliver the encouragement in a way that they will receive it best: Not everyone likes to receive encouragement the same way. Some like public praise. Others would rather be praised privately. Still others would rather their contribution not be held up above the other people. How people like receiving encouragement is related to their MVS, but be careful to get to know the needs of your team. Generally, RED’s like public encouragement, GREENS like it privately and very specific, BLUES would prefer if the encouragement is delivered personally with time. HUBS like when the strengths of the team are emphasized together. Like I said, these are general guidelines that are not always true. The key is to find ways of encouragement that will be received well. RED’s find encouragement by being given more responsibility. GREENS find encouragement by recognizing the accuracy and detail of their contribution. BLUES are encouraged by the strengthening of the relationship (perhaps a cup of coffee while offering the encouragement). HUBS enjoy encouragement that recognizes their ability to integrate ideas and people.
- Do it often!: Don’t let encouragement be scarce in your home, church, or workplace. Be generous with pointing out how people’s gifts are valuable and worthy of recognition. If you do it often and well, you will see an increase in teamwork and joy. However, encouragement can be overdone. Those who fall into overdoing encouragement are often BLUE MVS’s. When someone overdoes encouragement, it can feel less than genuine and manipulative. It can be written off rather than valued. Be careful to give encouragement when it is deserved. Having said that, it is better to overdo encouragement than to under do.
Teams that have leaders that are excellent at encouragement will outperform those that don’t. Encouragement is like grease on a wheel that makes things smoother and faster. Children that are encouraged well will be more confident and risk more. Marriages will be more satisfying. Why not try practicing encouragement this week? A challenge to you would be to find an encouraging word to say to each member of your team this week (and family members) and deliver it well so they can feel the full impact of your appreciation.
What have you found helpful in encouraging others? Please post so others can read your insights!