06 Oct Four Habits of Powerful Encouragers
If you are like me, you sometimes get discouraged and are tempted to give up. Often the difference between failure and success is someone who comes along side of you and speaks a powerful word of encouragement. Those words delivered in the right way have the capacity to alter your future. I have been the recipient of powerful encouragement and I want to learn how to deliver strong and effective words of encouragement to others.
Years ago, I was starting a new venture to equip non-profits and ministries in relational intelligence through Consentia Group. I was struggling to get traction and to communicate to others how our training could transform the relational culture of organizations. At the conclusion of one training event, a leader who trains non-profit boards around the world came up to me and said, “This training is one of the most powerful events I have attended in my life. You are going to make a huge difference in the lives of many people.” What he didn’t know, was that I was wrestling with the direction of my life and what I should be doing. Those words took away self-doubts and gave me clarity for my next steps.
The world is starving for encouragement. This is true of both the young and the old. Discouragement attacks the rich and poor alike. It doesn’t discriminate but is the enemy of all. You have the capacity to be that person who speaks apt word that could bring about hope and direction.
Discouragement leads to apathy. All around us we see people losing hope and giving up. When we get discouraged, we become less productive and lose our focus. It is easy to become disengaged. It doesn’t take much to get sidelined by discouragement – a set back in our goals, a personal attack, or a personal failure can derail us.
What we need is some encouragement delivered in a way that grips our heart and gives us a new perspective. It is so easy to get focused on the obstacles and begin a descent into depression or negativity. You have the capacity to deliver a powerful word of encouragement that can be transforming. Here are some key habits of powerful encouragers that you can adopt and make a difference in other people’s lives.
Key Habit 1: Encourage Often
Discouragement happens often, therefore we need to encourage often. We are way to stingy with our words of encouragement. The failure to be generous with encouragement is connected to our failure to recognize the need for encouragement. We can get so pre-occupied with our own lives that we miss what is going on in the lives those all around us. If we want to become powerful encouragers, we will need to become more aware of how others are struggling in their lives.
The opportunity to impact others with encouragement is staggering. As parents we can encourage our children who are wrestling with self-worth and self-confidence. Marriages are struggling because they are starving for their spouses to be their cheerleaders. Your co-workers are desperate for a kind word of appreciation. Your friends need to hear encouraging words from people who mean the most to them and care about them most. Even strangers can be moved by our encouraging words.
Take an inventory of your encouraging words in a day. Seek to grow your volume of encouragement. I suspect that we could easily double our encouragement and not come close to overdoing this powerful practice.
Key Habit 2: Connect Encouragement to their Motivation
If you want your words of encouragement to land powerfully, you must connect what you are saying to the motivational drive of the person receiving your words. If you fail to do this, you will miss the mark. You may be encouraging, but you will miss being powerful in your words. To do this, you will need relational intelligence. The SDI 2.0 helps you to understand relational intelligence and the three motivations of People, Performance, and Process.
Let me illustrate how to deliver powerful encouragement based on a person’s motivation. If someone is primarily focused on People as a motivation, you will want to connect encouragement to People. Here is an example, “Jenn, your work on that project was excellent. Because of your excellence, you helped John and Stef get the account. Well done!”. These encouraging words are directed at helping people. When Jenn hears this, she connects well with the encouragement because her prime focus is helping others.
Now if Jenn were not focused on People, but more focused on Performance, the encouragement would be more powerfully expressed in this way, “Jenn, your work on that project was excellent. Because of your excellent work, we landed the account and we reached our goal!”. This may sound very nuanced, but we are all very much in-tune with listening for what is most important to us. It’s the difference between hitting the bullseye or hitting the outside of the target. Both are encouraging, but one hits the sweet spot of the heart.
If Jenn were Process oriented, encouragement would be expressed differently, “Jenn, your work was excellent. The attention to detail and accuracy of your work was amazing. Without your analysis, we wouldn’t have gotten the account.” Powerful encouragement to a Process person connects with what is most important to them and what they seek to contribute.
Key Habit 3: Be Specific
The more specific you can be, the more powerful your words of encouragement. It is one thing to say you did a great job, and it is another to numerate what was great about your work. When you are specific it shows that you have thought more deeply about your encouragement. Here is an example, “Peter, thank you for helping out around the house.” That is not specific. This may be more effective, “Peter, thank you for giving up watching the football game to vacuum the floor. It means a lot to me that you would do that for me without asking.”
Key Habit 4: Be Genuine
No one wants encouragement that lacks honesty. Encouragement is not a tool of manipulation, but it can be that for some. What separates manipulation for genuine encouragement is whether we are giving it for the benefit of the other person. Have you ever had encouraging words given to you that seemed to have an alternative motive?
You may have had people in your life that give you praise and encouragement all the time. It feels like it is overdone. They even encourage you in your work when you have done a particularly poor job. Most likely, the encouragement wasn’t genuine. The person is wanting you to like them rather than giving you encouragement. These kinds of words miss their mark.
When you deliver encouragement, be sure it is genuine and coming from your heart. Don’t manipulate others. Deliver the words with honesty and integrity. Don’t overstate or stretch the truth.
If you want to be powerful in your encouragement, develop these four habits in all of your relationships. Watch your influence and charisma grow. The relationship culture in your sphere of influence will flourish. The truth of Proverbs 15:23 will become abundant, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!”