The Best Use of Words
Successful leaders lift people; poor leaders drain them. You either bring vitality or you exhaust.
Recently a leader from a Fortune 500 company that I’ve worked with reminded me of something I wrote. “No Encouragement is Discouragement.” His reminder stuck. It’s still on my mind, five days later.
Who have you encouraged in the last day or week? You’ve been meaning to say the good word. You’ve intended to offer a listening ear. But you’re dealing with too many issues and solving so many problems that encouraging others slipped off the agenda.
Encouragement infuses others with courage, hope, and confidence. Sounds like a good thing. So…
- Ask people, “What encourages you?”
- Send an email asking, “What can I do to encourage you today?”
- Think of things that encourage you and do them for others.
- Create an encouragement calendar with the names of people you plan to encourage on each day.
- Say something good in the morning. “Good morning Joe. I’ve been thinking about your last project. Your team was magnificent. Great leadership.”
Bonus: Be specific when giving compliments and don’t add but’s.
There’s no middle ground when it comes to encouragement. Either you encourage, or through neglect, you discourage. The best use of words is using them as tools to lift and energize.
What could you do to encourage someone today?
What encouragement tips can you suggest?
Love this one! My best tip is…
Every single time you think or hear something positive about someone, follow through with that compliment, thought or encouragement.
I consider myself quite an encourager. But once I did experiment with myself. I gave myself a challenge. I decided that for one week, every single time I thought or heard something positive about someone else, I would follow through on it. Pass it along to them, verbally or in writing or with some really small token.
Know what? I failed. The good news is that I learned I think positive thoughts about people all day long. But I only followed through about 50% of the time. And I consider myself a master encourager. Ha! Give yourself this challenge. It will make you more aware of the times you let slip by.
Thanks for your comment and I love your self-confidence.
Think good – say good! Think bad – consider silence 🙂
Hmmm, guess failure is all a matter of perspective Dauna…if a baseball player gets a hit once every two times at bat, he is the most successful batter in all history of baseball. Heck, only a few ball players get hits one time out of three and they are all stars. I think you succeeded! 😉
Thank you oh wise Yoda! Well said
Hi Dan. Your post was the perfect first read today as I head out for the annual AZBio Expo. With an arena full of scienctists to encourage and inspire, you have armed me with some great reminders.
President and CEO
Thank you for the good word. I often think of your leadership at AZBio. It’s so cool!
A good word from you is encouraging.
I think words express their powerful meaning when they coincide with our appearance. Words that contradict our expression and appearance do not create positive impact. They seem fake words. I think one should control using words when feeling negative towards something. One should practice how to control negative emotion. I encourage people by fueling hopes, energy and options. Where people see dead ends, there I show them ways to move forward. I believe encouragement comes from strong impulse from within. And that is powerful and real. I think encouragement tips are creating confidence level of the person who is discouraged. Discouraged people have low confidence and negative energy. So, leaders should appreciate them for their ideas. This create platform of trust building. And when you create that platform, confidence level keeps on increasing.
Here’s what I got from your insightful comment… Look at people in encouraging ways. 🙂
The second thing is… Look like an encourager.
Love that idea. If I can just implement.
Always glad you stopped in,
Thanks Dan for the reminder, somedays we get so busy trying to get our own job done that we forget to do this to those we lead.
In the end, I want LF to be a daily dose of leadership encouragement. Sometimes readers might learn but … I hope they always take a moment to think about their leadership.
We certainly get so busy that we forget things we already knew.
One tip for encouragement I would offer is to pass on the postive comments on the Company’s work to those who did the work. Postive feedback from the outside is encouraging. In addition the staff will know that you understand the importance of their contributions to the work and that is also encouraging. Bonus points if you commumicate the contribution of the team to the customer and let the team know that as well.
Great tip. When you hear a good word, share it! Heck, we do that with gossip… lets create “good gossip”
I love that new challenge! Let’s create “good gossip”. That will bring a global positive vibe😊!
Good morning, All. One of the challenges I set for myself recently was to provide some inspiration to a team of managers across North America. I call it the Monday Inspiration Series. I’ve been amazed by the positive responses, but especially by the actions that these leaders have undertaken as a result. I am very proud of them.
I’ve been preparing next Monday’s post for three weeks. It’s made up of a thought or a phrase, chosen daily, from this blog. The result of actively looking for inspiration is that I have been inspired myself! I hope to turn the lot of these leaders onto the wisdom in the *Leadership Freak*.
Thank you very much, Dan, for providing daily inspiration.
I recently talked with a leader who started a weekly newsletter that comes directly from him. Something that encourages and creates connections with the team. Like you, he’s amazed at the positive response. Very useful idea.
Thank you for passing to others things you’ve found useful for yourself.
I would like to reiterate the above. I too have been really focussing upon the positive in people, in action, in compliments, in encouragement, and in random acts of kindness – I even gave a young boy $20 for the heart and stroke skip-a-thon, just to see his face. He ran down the steps and yelled to his mom, “she gave me 20 bucks!”, to which his mom replied, “wow, she is very generous!” – wow a whole family is encouraged! Thanks for your blog, I have been sending it off to many colleagues and friends. Have a wonderful day! Linda
Great story…please tell me your address so I can come by on my next “skip-a-thon”.. 🙂
I’m taking the challenge that we can go beyond the expected to achieve great results.
I like it, Dan! Encouragement is definitely one of the greatest uses of words. One of my personal favorites is doing random instant messages throughout the workday to folks with some good words for them – it hits them with a little surprise.
I hope that you continue to be encouraged to do what you do each day – have a great one!
Thank you for being here on a regular basis and thanks for sharing LF posts with your twitter followers. Awesome!
Love you tip. I’m going to send a couple txt notes right now.
Using as few as possible. Love this and thank you for the reminder. It’s hard to consistently give encouragement when you don’t get it. God calls us to give….always!
There is an advantage to talking less… perhaps there’s also an advantage to talking more if the things we say lift others. If our words lift others, perhaps we should talk more. 🙂
Dan Rockwell – Leadership Freak you are always amazing in 500 words or less. This post was a shining example. Spot on! Bill Gates said that 21st Century leaders will be those who empower others. Today,more than ever before the imperative to empower, encourage and engage the best in ourselves and in others is critical.
The future of our organizations, our communities and our world lies in the heads, heards and hands of those courageous men and women who will dare to LEAD forward with the universal values, the faith, hope, courage and integrity that can help us use what is to create what can be.
Thank you, Dan for your outstanding contribution.
Yours in service and gratitude, Irene
Great seeing you again and thanks for all you do for others. You are a great contributor yourself. You keep lifting me with your comments and sharing LF with your twitter followers. Thank you.
Best to you,
Your quote, “No encouragement is discouragement” strikes a chord in multiple ways! That is going up on my wall as a big reminder! I like the challenge duanaeasley! I think it will be surprising!
Thanks for the great reminder, Dan.
It’s so cool to see people finding ways to encourage themselves. 🙂
Thanks for the good word.
It’s very powerful. Some leaders appreciate their people. The rest depreciate them.
I love a well-turned phrase.. NICE
While some might perceive this suggestion running counter to this thread…how bout giving yourself encouragement first? How often do you really do that? How challenging would it be to….
Ask yourself, “What encourages me?”
Send yourself an email asking, “What can I do to encourage me today?”
Think of things that others have done to encourage you and do them for yourself.
Create an encouragement calendar with the your name on each day.
Say something good in the morning to yourself.
Be specific when giving yourself compliments and don’t add but’s.
Absolutely do the same for others, however, if you are not on the calendar or list of those appreciated, why not? You might be even more invested & energized in giving to others as you have given to yourself.
One thing I love about reading comments is seeing how people find new angles and offer fresh or alternative ideas. You of course are a favorite of mine because you frequently do this.
It’s pretty hard to be a self-encourager and very easy to beat ourselves up. I’m going to say something good to myself tomorrow morning, if I dare.
Best to you,
Another well-done post, Dan. You d’man.
Thanks for taking a minute to share a good word… continued success to you Jeremy.
I really enjoy your blog posts on leadership. As a leadership and business coach myself, I am always on the lookout for good resources to share with my clients, and your blog is topnotch! Your thoughtful posts are also a welcome source of encouragement to me, especially as someone who works from home as a solopreneur most days. Thanks for sharing your unique perspective with us!
Thank you for returning the encouragement and for sharing LF with your clients. Thats an honor.
You have my best,
Really good advice. Thank you.
To avoid the buts, I use and instead, as a connective- sometimes a bit grammatically suspect… it enables an addtional point to be added with out the ‘but’ in a more encouraging way 🙂
Hi positive.. I’d say an and is usually better than a but. 🙂
Dan: I’m a big fan of your blogs, but I can’t agree with some of this one.
While I agree that encouragement is vital I think there is a real danger that you are seen as patronising if you over do it. For me it shouldn’t be something you have to focus on and decide who you are going to encourage and when, it should be a natural part of your leadership style. Spontaneous encouragement comes across as far more genuine than a pre-planned campaign. Of course there may be cultural differences hear, so I accept that on your side of the ‘Pond’ this may be the right way to go. It certainly wouldn’t work with me and in fact would switch me right off. It’s about balance and personal style I suppose.
Thanks for adding your perspective here. Few things are less useful and more off-putting than being fake.
I’m certain your observations about culture and the other side of the pond add value to this conversation.
Most of my posts are written to myself. I’m the audience. In this case, in my natural state, I’m not an encourager. I’m not satisfied with my spontaneous approach. I’m a problem seeker, fault finder, and solution giver. I want to rise above that approach.
Wanting to improve makes adopting new behaviors real to me. I don’t feel fake. I feel good that I’m pursuing who I want to be. On the other hand, using new behaviors to manipulate others is fake, patronizing, and disrespectful.
Great comment! Very useful and thought provoking.
Dan ,thanks for taking the time to reply.
I really like the idea that you write the blogs to yourself, I’ve never looked at it quiet like that before. I tend to base mine on personal experiances and focus on getting my point across to others. I like your method more, and will try that mindset next time. You can see some of mine at http://www.ipsoinsights, would love your opinion.
Looking forward to your future posts.
Good post – an approach I take for encouragement is to send a note or voicemail to some staff members when I am out of the office with words of encouragement and thanks for work well done. I am off today and this morning I sent a note to a key manager in my group and praised him for some recent great work and encouragement to focus today on yet another issue. All positive with no “but”. He knows I am out of the office today and I from past experience I know that seeing such an email when you get into the office is uplifting.
Some people have the natural gift of encouragement and others have to be purposeful about it – either way – encouraging others makes their day and in turn fuels me up to always lift others. A few things I do:
1. I try to take a genuine interest in the lives of those around me so that it is easy to spot when they need encouragement (and they usually email or text when they need it)
2. I ask God every morning to help me see who I can encourage today
3. When someone does pop into my mind – I shoot them a text or email with some encouraging words (I think the element of surprise for them makes their day)
4. I buy Whoopie Pies and surprise people at work or family and friends – at random
If I start my day with the thought of making someone’s day then I have fun and am always wow’d – they are genuinely touched that someone cared enough about them. It is the little things that make all of the difference in the world! Love this! Thanks for the post!
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This is a powerful post. Thanks. I love your email idea (what can I do to encourage you today).
Two things amaze me when I ask people what motivates them. 1) The diversity of the responses. 2) They often tell me they’ve never been asked that question before.
Encouraging our people is the little act that goes a long way.
This is such a simple concept, and yet such a profound truth. Leaders especially should try to encourage others and find people around them that constantly encourage and energize them so they can continue to grow personally and professionally.
People truly need to share in many aspects of life to grow to our greatest potential. Part of my speech at a fundraising dinner I set up for a local animal shelter touched on the topic: “We should share in everything; information, celebration, responsibility, consequences, failures, and successes. Only in that way can each person feel they have contributed what they believe, in themselves, to be a meaningful contribution.”
Deep and encouraging in itself. Love your posts, Dan!
Just a smile or kind words make such a difference to bring sunshine to someone’s day. I am always that it seems to take a great deal of effort for some to just say “good morning”.
Thanks for sharing.
Just a smile or kind words make such a difference to bring sunshine to someone’s day. I am always amazed that it takes a great deal of effort for someone to just say “good morning”.
Thanks for sharing. Thanks for sharing: Oops – I rewrote my previous post.
Beverly, you are so right and thanks for your post. I buy random people coffee on average twice a week. It’s amazing how such a gesture bring sunshine to a person’s demeanor or shock that someone is doing something nice.