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3 Ways to Make Encouragement Count

“How can you tell if a person needs encouragement? If that person is breathing.” S. Truett Cathy

You may not intend to, but managers discourage good people.

Encouragement feels like power.

Encouragement invites others to think differently about themselves.

12 ways managers discourage good people:

  1. Play favorites.
  2. Punish responsible mistakes. Know the difference between punishment and consequences.
  3. Exclude them.
  4. Do their job for them.
  5. Make self-serving decisions.
  6. Make decisions without listening.
  7. Discount effort when results fall short.
  8. Penalize success by constantly expecting more.
  9. Take credit and give blame.
  10. Discount experience and minimize feelings.
  11. Don’t follow through on commitments.
  12. Dwell on the past.

The joy of fools is to drag down.

3 ways to make encouragement count:

#1. Everyone needs encouragement – novices need it more.

Experts crave corrective feedback. “Tell me how I can be better.”

Experienced leaders enjoy being told what they’re doing wrong – if it leads to improvement – even if it stings.

Encourage novices by noticing character traits when they fall short. “I can tell you’re committed to do a good job.”

#2. Understand discouragement before rushing to encourage.

A cheerleader who doesn’t understand the game offends the players.

Encouragement without understanding trivializes encouragement.

It’s encouraging to have your discouragement understood.

3 questions to understand discouragement:

  1. You don’t seem to smile as much these days. What’s going on for you?
  2. You don’t seem yourself. What’s going on for you?
  3. I could be wrong, but you seem a little down today. What’s going on for you?

3 tips for effective question asking:

  1. Don’t use ‘why’. “Why are you down?”, feels like an accusation.
  2. Be silent after asking a question. Never judge responses. “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
  3. Affirm emotion. “I understand why you might feel that way.”

#3. Give encouragement its own legs.

It’s manipulative to use encouragement as a platform to give correction.

Practice drive-by encouragement.

Gratitude is cousin to encouragement.

What discourages you?

How might managers be an encouragement to others?

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