Those who Discourage Destroy
It’s easy to deflate others. But, it takes skill to lift people.
Leaders encourage – losers discourage.
Discouragement comes quickly, easily, and without thought. Encouragement – positive momentum – is a fragile flame that requires fuel, protection, and repetition.
Encouragement fuels success;
discouragement destroys it.
Nine ways to discourage others:
- Pile on work until they’re buried and then punish their mistakes or short-falls.
- Always know more.
- Criticize from the sidelines.
- Focusing on the negative past or dark future.
- Neglect forward focus.
- Withholding recognition and reward.
- Minimizing hard work by saying, “You’ve done well but you still have far to go.”
- Take credit for their work.
- Improve on their work while not working yourself.
Power of encouragement:
Discouraged people overestimate problems and underestimate opportunities. Don’t argue with their assessments. The issue is discouragement. Focus on encouraging, perceptions will change. Encouraged people courageously see opportunities and take next steps.
Bonus tip: Intervene before discouragement sets in. It’s easier to fuel a fire than light one.
Weak leaders go with the flow. Effective leaders create positive flow while standing against discouragement.
Identify those who discourage others and minimize their roles. Coach and train them. If they don’t change, manage them out. Discouragers are destroyers.
What have you seen leaders do that discourage others?
Has someone encouraged you? What did they do?
10. Overlook the progress.
Pull one favored person into your circle and make them privy to insider information not available to others. Perfect formula for discouraging everyone else.
Notice any talent someone possesses and tell them about it. People often are blind to their own strengths. My 17 year old grandson had an assignment to write an essay about his own strengths. He knew he was athletic, but that is all he knew. I pointed out to him that he has a special gift for making all people feel valued. I cited several examples to prove to him he has this gift. He was astonished… completely unaware of this natural talent he has. But I know he will never forget this conversation. I also know that conversation will make this natural talent grow. Double benefit.
Discourage – Always focus on their weaknesses, their “opportunities for growth”, never celebrate their successes, always try to get them to be more like you.
Encourage – Recognize, draw out and encourage their strengths, celebrate their successes, affirm and appreciate their unique contributions.
“Weak leaders go with the flow” is a powerful statement. I would say, they are not leaders but manipulators. Strong leaders on the other hand, stand against the flow and challenge it. They might face resistance, rejection and isolation in short run, but finally emerge as a winner. They become game changer and trend setters. I agree that discouraged people overestimate problems and underestimate opportunities. And would like to add that discouraged leaders boast their performance and demean others. I feel intervention could be risky venture for leaders. Yet, leaders should intervene putting strong evidence against discouragement. I believe leaders most critical weapon to discourage others is to create fear. They create fear by various means- creating negative perception with the boss, distorting and stopping information flow, showing concerns for the organization, acting and behaving in the way that show others least concerned. They make mountain from mole. They spread rumor and form group of liked minded people.
There are many people who have encouraged me and even now encouraging. They are my students, colleagues, family members and all those people directly or indirectly connected with me. They inspire me and believe in my strength. Their belief makes me feel stronger and more passionate. This injects great hope within me. And I strongly believe ” Hope” is the greatest inspiring factor of any human beings on the globe.
It takes more strength to encourage than to discourage. To step up to it , to motivate , to give a helping hand and then to let them go and grow to be who they are and trust that you have done your utmost, ,without expecting anythng in retun, that should be a human joy. Leaders who perceive that they are leaders by putting others down, are actually pathetic people who have low self confidence. They are plenty around and the only way to deal with them, is to know that thank God, you are not as low as them !
Dan, Good post. A hard one for me. My project management consulting role is often to assess other projects. I try to focus on strengths and opportunities, but have to bring out deficiencies that are barriers to success as well. Being too encouraging is seen by some as losing my objectivity. I find that the challenge of encouraging and assessing works best if I can engage the client in the assessment so that we arrive at a common view, not one tossed in from the sidelines. Usually works. Sometimes the problems are too big or the resistance too great. Still, your comments are good guidelines not just for leaders on teams, but for those who have to oversee or evaluate them. The 9+1 points are good warnings for external auditors or consultants trying to make things work better.
When the focus can be on the work or the problem, not the person, things can change. Without discouraging the person, others can be brought in to help find an issue. When the person is not criticized or discouraged, finding that a skill is lacking or that an understanding of the work is needed is just an issue that can be handled with less fear and damage. When this is the work climate, the person who doesn’t fit in and refuses to work this way can be “helped to take their talents elsewhere.” Will this take time? Yes.
You are so correct that it takes nothing to discourage an employee and that can be the most popular way of discouragement “do nothing.”. Never recognizing them for anything and expecting them to continue to preform well. One to the biggest times of encouragement for myself was when my boss told me I could do something that I never dreamed I could and then set me on the path to succeed with ongoing praise for the little things.
It’s a blessing to find someone that believes in you. Not many around much these days.We, human beings, needs someone who can motivate and encourages. The worst is, when in your downs, someone comes and add more spices into it! Talents comes in all shapes and sizes, and if you ever find one, it’s a treasure on earth!
Choong, well put we all have some talent to share. We must be willing to look for it in others. 🙂
Thank you. Am glad that you think the same. The world is filled with a lot of sad people who are very self centered. It would be nice to meet someone who brings some sunshine into people’s lives. When we leave this world, it’s always nice to be remembered for who you are. The world would definitely be a better place when there is an angel out there !
Too true! I can look back and see how I was discouraged – and so easily. In a lot of cases, I got up and pulled myself up by the bootstraps though, but it was tough. Verses when I was in an encouraging situation and I had the strength of ten men!
Required by more; missed by many. Thanks for the reminder.
I recently completed eight months working in an atmosphere I found very discouraging. I’ve asked myself why I found it so discouraging, and this article has caused me to strongly consider this question once more. A few brief examples:
*Pitting members of the same team against one another, then giving favored opportunity to just one.
*Grossly overestimating and responding abusively to all error.
*Piling on with no regard for well-being or understanding.
*Abusive response to negative outcomes.
*Valuing result over process.
*Taking no time or patience for teaching.
*Giving no direction.
*Belittling, using sarcasm, or dehumanizing to motivate.
Josh, I know exactly how you feel. I spent a few years at such a company, and can relate to what you say. I was even offered a colleagues’ position behind her back- if they did it to her, I knew they could do it to me. The final straw was when we had our yearly performance appraisals, only to find out that after doing my best for years, they rated my “Value to Company” as 2/5.
I felt belittled and unappreciated, and resigned at the end of that year.
Said company has had such a high staff turnover, in the 2 years preceding my resignation, they had to replace more than half of their staff, and your list above hits the nail on the head of why no-one could work there very long.
Don’t let them hold you back, update your skills, update your CV, ask friends and family to list your strengths and go out and get the job you deserve.
I have found this phenomenon at EVERY place I worked. It’s either I see someone get bullied, or I get bullied myself. I don’t know if me being in an abusive household (full of discouragement covertly, projections, beration for standing for myself, and justification for their abusive behavior. Even as a customer to some of the companies I go to, I find people to be rude and disrespectful. Thus, I decided to want to move overseas. I certainly have had only a few people who were nice, but they always go. Somebody pray that I get out of this situation. If I have to move to another country, I’ll do it. And a support system.
Narcissism > Discouragement > Destruction: In the world of a narcissist the only important person is the one in their mirror. They are arrogant and preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited brilliance and power. Their lack of empathy makes them unable to tolerate even the smallest differing opinion. Instead they lash out with rage and defiance.These might be the same bullies you grew up with. Regardless of age they have low egos and the need to degrade others to artificially heighten themselves.They find it impossible to cooperate and maintain long term relationships with employees and customers. Any company with such a person in charge is doomed to failure.
I always dread my year end review because I always get knocked down and kicked. Every year is a slightly different theme, but it all hinges on my boss making assumptions about what she thinks I haven’t done well without any input from the people I work with and serve every day. This year I tried to get her more involved (her request) and ask for help when I needed it. So the theme of my YER this time was how dramatically I’m failing in the areas that I asked for help on. Never mind that when I asked for help she told me she was too busy. So I had to go find help from other quarters in order to properly serve my clients and make deadlines.
Am sad to hear about your perception on yearly reviews. Feel that reviews should be a 2-way traffic. Bosses ,themselves should also be reviewed by their co-workers and vice versa. Reviews is not about subjecting people to forms of humiliation, it’s suppose to be a teaching and learning guide to improve the system. Unfortunately, to some bosses, it’s a way to put a person down. I believe that to accomplish success in a any company, it takes both parties to come together and build a good team. Teamwork requires efforts on both sides. If that can’t be accomplish, then maybe it’s time to move on to a better place where one is appreciated!