Would my husband really want to continue dredging through 72-hours of online class work if no one acknowledged his hard work? Would a volunteer put himself out there again if no one recognized his dedication to a cause? Hardly.
If we as bystanders don’t do or say anything, how can we expect others to be excited about and continue what they are doing? We can’t. Encouragement is fuel and we all need it to persevere.
It truly doesn’t take much to encourage others. It’s not something you have to plan out or orchestrate. It should come from the heart in the joy of the moment and be spontaneous or at least happen before too much time has lapsed. It’s positive reinforcement right then and there.
- Begin with interest. A genuine, deep interest in what the person or group is doing is best because your enthusiasm should spill forth without much thought. On the other hand, you don’t have to care so much about the project as long as you care about the person and the same outcome should result. Think about a child taking violin lessons; even if it’s difficult to listen to the screeching strings in the beginning, your child is enjoying this fresh endeavor, learning a new skill, being involved in a group or team, and gaining a significant life lesson in the end. You’ll do them a disservice if you don’t cheer them on.
- Express your approval. How many times has a thought popped into your head that you didn’t say out loud? How many times would that same thought have been perceived as a form of encouragement by the recipient? Saying something as simple as “The sautéed spinach tastes really good” or “I can’t pinpoint what it is, but you look vibrant and happy today” can lift someone’s spirits and turn their whole day around. No matter what positive thought pops into your mind — articulate it. Set it free to do its work!
- Be appreciative. My goodness, a simple heart-felt “Thank you” once in a while can go a long way especially for those redundant or bothersome tasks no one wants to do. “Thank you for sweeping the floors” or “Thank you for taking that phone call for me” shows them that what they’ve done has not gone unnoticed. Sometimes we assume they know we appreciate their efforts, but in reality they might feel as if they are being taken for granted. Don’t let this happen. I’d be lost if hubby didn’t help around the house with laundry, chickens, meals, trash — the list goes on — so I try to thank him when he’s listening (not during football).
- Special recognition. Sometimes something unexpected is warranted. Recently the rescue where I volunteer was selected to participate in a potentially profitable popularity contest. One of our volunteers took it upon himself to reach out to every one, every where he could think of in order to garner votes. Then every day, twice a day, for several weeks, he manually calculated our standings and emailed a reminder status/update. His words and actions were encouraging us to keep voting … and ultimately we won. So the board of directors, rightly so, sent him a public letter of acknowledgment for his extra dedication to the cause.
- Be their rock. Sometimes we just need to know we have someone to turn to when we’re floundering with a project or goal. We need someone in our corner we know will instill some confidence and remind us of why we’re doing this in the first place. Think of your friend trying to lose weight who knows she’s on the edge of falling off her weight loss program in the middle of the afternoon when the munchies strike and reaches out to you to steady her. She knows that you’ll always say something to keep her on track, so you can be instrumental in keeping her confident and secure.
Every single day people in our lives are doing things they might not enjoy or find difficult or feel are unrewarding. It’s our job… it’s everyone’s job… to offer encouragement to those around us.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? Please do but be sure to include this complete blurb with it: © 10/17/2012 Kimberly J. McCloskey, author and copy editor, will be your sounding board, proofreader and partner to make you look intelligent, sound professional, and be authentic! Learn about her at www.TheWritingPartner.com.