Create a Practice - The habit of Encouragement
No habit was ever created by doing it once. Encouragement is something that makes such a difference in the lives of others that, even after a few days, you’ll find yourself looking for new opportunities to practice. The habit of encouragement is not easily created; you will have to practice the art of encouraging others by honing a variety of other skills.
How Do I Listen First?
•Listen first; talk later.
•Ask the question that provokes more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
•Instead of thinking what you will say next,
just breathe and listen for what is not said—for what is hoped for.
Listening first helps to learn the clues of what is said as well as what was unsaid.
It’s another way of heightening our awareness.
It helps you be aware of emotions that may not be verbalized but that are very present.
How Do I Listen First?
Listen first; talk later.
Ask the question that provokes more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
Instead of thinking what you will say next, just breathe and listen for what is not said, for what is hoped for, for fear that surrounds the energy of the person, for uncertainty. These are the clues that encouragement is needed.
Seeing this Power Tool in Action
I have an old acquaintance whose husband died twenty years ago. She is not someone who reveals emotion to most people. I always thought she had recovered quite quickly but I never thought to call her to ask her.
At a workshop, the audience was invited to tell a story about something that made a huge difference that was unexpected.
She raised her hand and told about going up to the attic to clear out some papers. She was going through boxes and came upon a large stack of letters written by parents of her students. They wrote to thank her and offer their sympathy for her loss. She had saved those letters but was thrilled to find them.
I was sitting right next to her, and although she looked like she was calm, I could see tears in the corners of her eyes. I made a note to have the conversation that I never thought to have twenty years ago. Grief has no timetable and the friends who care enough to check in, even after twenty years, are always appreciated.
Other Pro Tips
Observe the Language of the body!
There is so much to uncover in not just the WHAT that is said – but also in the HOW it is said. Try to tune in to what people are saying with their bodies. Challenge your empathy to see how far it can go, so you can really connect with the person you are talking to while allowing them to express freely.
Make it Meaningful
This is easier than we make it.
Every day we come across music, quotes, poems, and stories that inspire us. We may keep these for the days when we need a lift (personal encouragement).
What if we kept a folder either on our computer or on paper of all those things? Then, we would have at our disposal, a bank of encouraging words and tunes to use as our own resource to encourage others or ourselves? Divide the main folder into sections for easier searching, and don’t forget to include personal encouragement for those times when you feel the deep need for encouragement.
Make It Personal
It’s better if it’s personal. Think about what makes an impression on you. It’s the things that took someone out of their way and the point that they cared enough to take the time.
Make a call, let the person know you are thinking about them, tell them you are there to listen and, if appropriate, ask what they need.
Our culture is still one of a bootstrap mentality, our thinking that of helping ourselves. Have you ever noticed how lonely that can be?
Send a Personal Encouragement
A letter, a funny card, a note (all delivered by snail mail!) can make the difference in whether someone keeps going or quits too early.
Apply to have encouragement sent from us!
Every week, we choose a nominee who needs encouragement to receive a personal encouragement from us. She will get a personal note of encouragement by snail mail, and you will get a copy as well. These personal encouragements are creative, inspiring and part of our contribution to help our community.
Click on the button below if you would like to be considered for this service.
We will post the letters—but not the contact information—on our Facebook and Instagram pages and will share any stories we receive with you.
Make a note daily. Buy a notebook and make 2 columns: One for what you did—and the other for what response you received
Send a note
Make a call
Acknowledge someone publicly
Tell a story to others about someone doing something sensational and make it one they will hear about in a really positive way
Make someone laugh
Give a compliment that is very specific and out of the ordinary – find something special
Be an Observer
As you start to focus more on the gifts of others, your observation skills will increase. Make notes on what is changing in your observational powers and how that is affecting your ability to encourage others at a deep level. Also observe your own reactions and how you feel as you make this a practice.
It’s time to Fuel Your Friends.
What did you notice from your experience?
What were some great questions you asked?
What happened when you set your intention?
We want to know!
Come back often for doses of encouragement stories from our growing community!