Why Encouragement Fails – What to Do About It
He quietly explained, “Tell me my work matters.”
We were in the living room discussing his role in our organization, when he said, “Sometimes I get discouraged.”
I asked, “How would you like me to treat you when you get discouraged?”
He said, “Encourage me.”
I asked for explanation.
Avoid treating others the way you want to be treated. If everyone was like you, that strategy would be perfect. Treat others the way they want to be treated.
Negotiation begins when you ask, “How would you like me to treat you when…?”
Invite others to explain what encouragement looks like when:
- Projects are succeeding and they’re winning.
- Feedback is given, positive or negative.
- Projects are failing and they’re struggling, discouraged, or defeated.
- “No,” is the answer.
- New challenges or opportunities emerge.
Tip: Avoid encouraging only during down times. The way you treat others when things are going well either fuels their fire or drains their vitality.
When I asked, “How can I encourage you?” I affirmed my own ignorance and his individuality.
A kick in the pants encourages some. Others are encouraged by kind words. Personally, I find expressions like, “You can do it,” irritating.
Specific, relevant behaviors, elevate
encouragement above meaningless drivel.
Rather than asking what encouragement looks like, try a proactive approach.
Declare yourself. “I want to fuel your vitality.”
Explain, “I’m trying to encourage you when I ….”
After describing your behaviors, ask, “Does that encourage you?”
Explore, define, clarify, and adopt.
Discouragement includes the possibility that you don’t matter. No one can make you feel you matter, if you don’t believe it. But, leaders remind others that their work is meaningful.
I’ll encourage my friend by showing him how his work propels our mission and vision forward.
What encourages you?
How do you encourage others?
A very good post indeed. Truth, transparency and fairness really encourage me. People need truth in treating the way people are treated. People are very powerful in observing the differential treatment. They do not want words from management or leaders. Instead, they need action. This can help restoring belief. Leaders should encourage creating culture of transparency. What people speak in front, they should also speak the same behind. Many a times, management is not aware about practices emerging in the system. So, it is important for leaders to be aware about the practices. Fairness in treatment starts from the top. When people see it, they try to follow it. But when they see, some people are treated differently, they start losing belief in the system.
I also believe that recognition and reward for truth and ethics should be there. This can discourage unfair practices at bottom level.
I encourage others by knowing first. I try to understand why they are not discouraged. And then I try to discourage the symptom that discourage people. At the same time, when symptoms are beyond control, I show them big picture what they can achieve through their potential and overcoming such short aberrations.
Here’s the nugget I’m taking with me today, Leaders, “can help restore belief…” Powerful…
Well every now and then I read something directly opposite of my experience. Alrighty then! Good thing I have been placed in a position of neutrality or those would be fighting words!!!!! LOL
I absolutely serve others exactly how I want them to serve me, then leave the results to God.
Treating folks where they are at! Goodness!!!!!! What if they are like the lion who grew up with the sheep? Walked around making noises like sheep all his life! Then another Lion stumbled upon him and asked him what the heck he was doing acting like a sheep?
Told this Lion who he really was, The King of the Jungle and HE ROARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Treat folks like they think they are!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!
Will take a huge ole pass on dat! Serve them like I KNOW who they are cause I do! God’s Kids!
Dude wrote a story in the AA Big Book. Dr Paul….Dr, Alcoholic, Addict. Most famous part was his take on acceptance. Share it with ya’ll………..
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until that person, place thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment”.
So for me first great placed to start is the decision TO QUIT PLAYING GOD!
Got to rid myself of the illusion I can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this life only if I manage it well.
Choose to fit myself to be of maximum service to myself, God and his other kids. God, your will not mine be done. PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good place for me to start is by not rewriting the Golden Rule and try practicing it moment by moment instead.
I do not encourage others. I work to get my own house in order and just leave the rest up to God. My life works MUCH better that way.
If others see something in the way I live my life they want, desire, are inspired by…..then I can share my experience, strength and hope. Period. If they get something out of it then they are bound to share it with another when they show up asking.
SP Back to the Present in left field
Thanks for sharing Scott.
I choose a leadership style centered on others which motivates me to adapt to them within the confines of my values.
Thanks for disagreeing.
Hey I wasn’t disagreeable!!!! At least I hope I wasn’t!! Great lively discussion which is cool. Nothing wrong with being different unless you tell yourself there is I suppose.
So we ARE all the same!!! Gods kids!!
Conception, growing in the womb, birth, breathing, blood flowing, thinking, living till dirt nap!! Pardon me for not seeing any difference here. Oops!!!
Only thing that separates us is our ego. I choose to work towards not listening to it anymore not expecting others to cater to its silly whims. You?
Ok so I don’t go to work this week. I want you to treat me like I did and I accomplished great things even though I never even showed up. Pay me huge commissions and sign over the whole business to me. That is the way I want to be treated!!!
As a matter if fact I want you to treat me like I won the lottery and gimme my millions!
Then since I like the way this works with you I want this gal I got a mad deep incredible feelings for to return those feelings….come on sweetie even if that is not how you truly feel. With this strategy it is all about me, don’t u get it?
Imagine how wonderful everything will be for me when everyone on earth gets with this plan!!! It will be marvelous!!!
Yeah this is going straight down the rabbit hole.
As far as taking Dr Tony up on his improvement of The Golden Rule…..take a big ole pass on that one too.
Dr Tony’s strategy or Gods? Call me crazy but I m not experiencing this as a choice with much struggle, just saying.
Ego. Edging God Out or God. God Orderly Direction. The second one only works if I tried the other one, got completely defeated down the wabbit hole and got no other alternative or fight left in me. Surrender is a beautiful thing when destruction of the ego is the result.
Gloriously for me I don’t follow whims of my ego. Just my Higher Powers will for me, don’t need no improving or improvising on my part. Sure if God felt he/she needed that from me I feel I was asked.
Trust God, Clean House, Help Others. Now there is a plan worth following. Just my opinion based on my experience.
SP back to the present
Hi Scott, if someone doesn’t want to be treated as you want to be treated and you insist on treating the person as you want to be treated, then that is putting your wants ahead of the other person’s wants? Some may say that that is Prideful.
Nope missing the whole point!!!!
The point is if I would like to be left alone when I am around this other person I just leave them be
The true selfish egotistical view from the way I see it and I could be mistaken is to think I know what the other person wants. Plus what if they are a psychopath?
It is the selfless intent.
Sorry Dr Tony’s strategy FOR ME is just a dead bang loser.
If if works great for you, great just directly opposite for what I am up to .
Good Morning –
Ok – I agree with the majority of your posts – not bad for two humans.
I don’t often ask for someone to take time to explain or expound, but I am now… if you will.
I do not disagree with much of the idea in this one, but I was-am handicapped in reading it because the first point appears to be opposite of the Lord’s specific words.
I know you used to pastor a church and we likely agree on much but I will be careful not to assume… yet – if so, help me understand the post in light of Truth.
I guess it caught my attention because I seem to have the gift of encouragement and so the interest…
Ted Lee Sadler 810.813.0141 – cell Gateway Group T-H Printing Company
inf W – http://www.tedleesadler.wordpress.com “Happy is he who finds Wisdom – better than fine gold.” – KS
I assume you are referring to: “Avoid treating others the way you want to be treated. If everyone was like you, that strategy would be perfect. Treat others the way they want to be treated.”
Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you.
Question. How do you want other to “do unto you?”
Do you want others to treat you the way THEY want to treat you or do you want others to treat you the way YOU’LD like to be treated.
Thanks for asking.
When you teach SpeedReading and SpeedReaching people, we talk about the “Platinum Rule.” Communicate unto others as they would have you communicate unto them.
Different personality types listen for different things in conversations. Different personality types tend to assign different mental models to selected words and as to the timing of when the words are spoken.
A person’s sense of self-worth will DEEPLY affect how they hear encouragement, and will of course interact in a complex way with their personality type. The most effective encouragement is a gentle stretch of self-perception, not a quantum leap for their self-value image.
Under the umbrella of the Golden Rule, then, is the art of communication and encouragement that is the implementation of it.
I don’t see a conflict at all.
Love the point of “gentle stretch of self-perception.” Encouragement then begins with the self-perception of others. We can’t make anyone believe in themselves but we can help.
Hello Dan, another good article.
The Platinum Rule,
by Dr. Tony Alessandra
We have all heard of the Golden Rule-and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated.
The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule:
“Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Ah hah! What a difference. The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.”
I prefer then Platinum Rule since when I use the Golden Rule with my wife she gets angry. When I use Platinum Rule she is very pleased with me.
Employees are like my wife, they do not necessarily want to be treated as their bosses want to be treated.
Ha, “great minds.” Look above…
Yes, I agree.
Much appreciate the link. HOwever, I see the “platinum rule” as an expression of the golden, not an alternative.
Love your illustration from your marriage!
Hi Dan, I’m not sure why you say one is an expression of the other since they are diametrically opposed; we cannot follow both Rules at the same time.
We can either treat people as they want to be treated or treat people as we want to be treated.
Both Rules may both precious metals but they are not the same.
The assumption of the Golden Rule is that all people want to be treated the same way which is ludicrous since I just demonstrated that my wife does not want to be treated as I want to be treated.
Hi Bob, forgive me for jumping in here, but I find the idea that gold and platinum rules are “diametrically opposed,” well, terribly polarized, LOL!
I am conceptual thinker, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll try to squeeze this into a nutshell. I believe the platinum rule is an IMPLEMENTATION of the golden rule because:
Desire is behind EVERY choice.
How I would want someone to treat me (paraphrase, of course) is a desire.
One desire under the umbrella of how I would like to be treated (better put as, “How I would like my relationships to go,” IMHO), is to reach understanding, and to be understood. That feels very good.
So using the platinum rule, if I seek to understand another, and then communicate or treat them in a way to show them my understanding…and more… wow, that sure would feel good—no, GREAT, coming my way.
🙂 🙂 🙂
Treat others like the way they want to be treated!
Man this Dr Tony and his mind reading must be really cool.
The idea as I understand it is I treat others the way I want to be treated cause of cause and effect. I get back what I give.
Guess if I am dumb or unaware I would not understand why it is put together the way it is and feel the need to change it up. Don’t need changing, it’s perfect.
So what if treating people were colors.
I see a person and with my obvious superior people evaluating skill I say they are a green bloke!!!! Me me me ego ego ego yuck yuck yuck
I give them green!!!! Turns out they are really orange type!!! Opps my bad
Sorry Dr Tony but just for me you got a really horrific plan so I will take a pass.
Till I can read a persons insides from their outsides I am just gonna stick with Gods plan. We get back what we give, just maybe not from that person.
I get back what I give, the deeper meaning of the Golden Rule. I treat others like the awesome wonderful incredible kids of God and leave the results up to God.
This needs no improvement or tweaking, just determined application as a demonstration of faith.
Just my opinion based on my experience.
SP back to the present
“Till I can read a persons insides from their outsides.”
Do you have a problem with asking people how they want to her treated? It is easy and worthwhile.
No Bob I just have experience listening to people living rigorously honest lives.
See in AA, we drink, we die. We lie, we drink.
When you get to listen to people with this advantage, honest or die you find out all sorts of things.
You find people LIE!!! Lol
They lie to their spouse, to their boss, their family, friends. Themselves mostly.
Most people live lives of quiet desperation. When you go to enough AA meetings you hear it.
So I got no problem asking anyone anything anytime!!!!! I am free baby!!!!
I just got no confidence in the person I asking to be able or willing to give me a straight answer.
Don’t believe me Bob? You meditate?
If not quiet your mind for a few minutes and listen to the roar of the train.
Find out how loud your train is THEN ask yourself if you can really get honest answers out of others.
Heck how many people effected by addiction in America? All those suffering from untreated addiction working somewhere, lying to stay outta trouble, lying to people please!!
Stealing 998 billion bucks a year from employers!?!!!!
Can I ask them!!!!! Man that is just so hilarious!! I get why the Buddha laughs!
Thanks for asking. Not sure we agree on everything Bob but you seem like a good Dude.
Party on Wayne!!
SP back to the present
Speaking for my part on the platinum rule, it’s actually pretty easy to get a start on it without “mind reading.”
Once you pick up on certain signs about personality type (from behavioral cues, facial expressions, writing cues, dress cues, etc.) you can start a hypothesis.
From there as you get to know a person, and observe how THEY communicate, you can accommodate them to a poing where you are meeting them at least half way, while still being true to yourself.
There is an aspect to this that requires appreciation for diversity of personality and the wonderful color that brings to life.
There is an aspect to this that requires empathy and compassion for others, and a desire to meet them authentically, and not to practice this approach for manipulative purposes.
There is an art to it, and it is not always a completely successful approach. 😉
Well I don’t know if I am agin it or for it but WOW SW THAT was a detailed precise thoughtful answer!!!!
Think I am still gonna stuck with what I give I get.
I understand watching, looking for folks to show their tell! I do get it!
It is like i said to to Bob, the folks I am asking are most likely suffering from a spiritual malady, not sure who they are, who I am or who God is. They think they are their ego.
If this is the case can they give credible answers even if they want to?
U just have no idea how sponsoring folks in AA helps you with an understanding of the human condition. Not just sponsoring, just being around these people. A state of grace.
Like Mr Merriwhether in little big man!!
I ain’t licked, I am tarred and feathered!!!!
Don’t ya understand, he could of passed a lie detector test.
So for me just gonna keep it spiritually simple.
Serve others how I would like them to serve me and leave the results to god.
Man what a great lively discussion today tho, right!!!
I found it very informative and interesting.
SP back to the present!
The Platinum Rule follows from Emotional Intelligence. Sincerity is a multiplicative.
Thanks M J.
If I may, sometimes our EI needs a little plain ole “tell me exactly what to do,” from the people we are trying to encourage. EI opens the door to effective encouragement but exploration and clarification of specific behaviors is necessary.
This is a comment about the comments. It is the same thing. If you treat others as you would be treated, and you would that you are treated as the individual that you ARE, and that your boss takes five seconds or minutes or hours to invest in learning what fuel you run best on (given the conditions of the road) …. then … you are treating others as you would have others treat you. Ye gads. Convolution.
About the post itself. Thought provoking. I am mulling over how I can encourage staff and colleagues best now. Dan your posts are often a reminder and roadmap – have I neglected? Am I on track? Do I agree or disagree? Thanks for being thought-provoking
I think we are tracking and thanks for the encouragement. Best wishes on the journey.
I really enjoy your blog, Dan. I have been reading it for a couple years now and as a young person in the professional world I appreciate so much of what is said here. So thank you!
I’ve read some of the comments and I think I understand where you are coming from with your statement about not treating everyone as you want to be treated.
I take that statement (in your context) and associate that with as a leader, as an employee — don’t treat those you supervise the same as you want to be treated in regards to motivation, encouragement, etc. None of us are motivated the exact same and none of us are encouraged (in the world pace) the exact same.
When I read your statement I don’t associate it with courtesy or customer service. That is a no brainer – we should treat others as we would like to be treated in terms of daily life, courtesy, and in the realm of customer service. We’re commanded to “…Love your neighbor as yourself…” as the body of Christ. (Mark 12:31-ESV)
Maybe you wouldn’t agree with my assumptions as I read your post – I’d love to hear your feedback.
I think we are on the same page… 🙂 Thanks for the clarification.
That’s the base need of any human being, I think: to know that who we are and what we do matters. Thanks for the reminder to simply ask: “How do you want me to respond/treat you when…?” You have taught me that sharing your ignorance in this area established trust between the two parties and builds a better, more honest relationship.
When the vision is dull (even of our own team’s significance), it’s the leader’s responsibility to remove the cataracts. I think that would be a great follow-up question for someone who doesn’t feel appreciated: “What is keeping you from seeing your value to our team?”
I agree regarding the base need. I was delighted to hear him say something so personal and powerful. I think more of us should have the courage to be that honest and vulnerable.
You might also ask, How could you be more valuable to our team? In both cases you call for a personal response.
Oh, my gosh, how many times in my career have I told people, “treat others as you would want to be treated”? A LOT!
Two light bulb moments came to mind as I read this: First is that, Dan, you took this often adapted biblical admonition and kind of turned it inside out and upside down — which almost always sheds new light on things. Secondly, I don’t feel that you are advising us to replace the “treat others as you would want to be treated,” but to apply it more from a perspective of empathy . . . treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their place.
But to do this right, you ultimately have to ask them.
And besides, until you have the opportunity to ask them how they want to be treated, the dependable old standby can still serve as a good “default” starting point.
I’m loving all the discussion and thought that is revolving around the golden rule and the platinum rule.
If some one told me they wanted to fuel my vitality I think I should be appalled!
Lets hope no one tells you that. 🙂
Thank you another great one. ; O)
Thanks, Dan. Good post and good chain of comments – I kept pausing and pondering – I love it when that happens.
One other thought that occurred to me – encouragement is another area where leaders must exhibit consistency. If I’m not consistent in the way I offer encouragement, my colleagues will see that and it will undermine my efforts, potentially also damaging my credibility and relationship with the person(s) on the receiving end. Like so many other things within the realm of “leadership,” encouragement must be intentional.
Thanks again, Dan.
Consistency is stability and stability is a component of feeling safe. Even when the business world is unstable, leaders can provide points of stability with their consistency… thanks for your insights!
So good to see you present another side to the old adage:
1) “Treat others as you would want others to treat you.”
2) “Treat others as they would want to be treated”.
I believe both have their place.
In the context of DISCOURAGING hurtful behaviours that are to be avoided, version 1 works well (empathy building).
In the context of ENCOURAGING helpful behaviours that are to be repeated, version 2 has more impact (bringing the best out in people).
As always, thanks for the richness you add to our lives with your wise words, Dan!
I’m with you… I don’t see an either or when it comes to the rules.
My the Universe is amazing!!
Write after I wrote this comment, I went to do today’s meditation with Deepak and Oprah (21 Day Challenge going on right now) and the first thing I saw on the page was this quote:
“It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.”
Thanks for jumping back in… love the idea of seeing others and of course letting others see us. Cool
I look forward to reading these each day and try to embrace what I learn. How does one apply these skills when one’s own leadership makes little effort to learn new leadership skills or cultivate an excellence of leadership? I am not bitter, just beginning to feel like I am stuck in a strange middle.
Thanks for your comment and question, Emily.
How does a “do what you can with what you have” approach seem to you?
Interesting post. I use to think my kids liked it and or were encouraged when I use to scream and encourage them in the stands while they were playing baseball. I would say lets go, you can do it, run faster, nice play, etc. I thought I was being their #1 fan. Until one day, they busted my bubble and said dad I dont like when you encourage me in that way. I said really. Well how do you want me to encourage you? They said the fact that you are in the stands and watching is great encouragement. They said when they look up in the stands and see me thats all they need but if I had to do something..give them a thumbs up or a smile and that would work. As a kid, I loved it when my folks cheered me on but everyone is different.
Thanks Chris. I love where negotiating relationships takes relationships within the home. I’m glad you shared your story.
Feedback is so important! Especially when encouragement fails!
New post just uploaded to Bradford Cares about what makes a community a great place to live in, I invite you to check it out! http://bradfordcares.wordpress.com/
The more time you spend listening to your people and really getting to know them, means you can tailor your way with them as individuals.
So, why do so many leaders fail to do this Dan?