Less then 20% of Americans receive the necessary level of encouragement necessary to raise their performance.
Why do so many leaders, teachers, coaches and parents fail to use a tool that is readily available to them every day? Equally important is wondering why so called “soft skills” like encouragement are so undervalued and appreciated.
The art of encouragement is commonly dismissed as unimportant. Yet it is hard to develop and difficult to train. The use of encouragement can change the course and trajectory of individuals and organizations.
Encouragement is not cheerleading.
The more I study the nuances of high-performance and achievement it becomes evident that encouragement gets confused with cheerleading. Make no mistake a bit of cheerleading doesn’t hurt. But great encouragers are not simply cheerleaders. They are not blind to performance and achievement gaps nor do they shy away from addressing them.
Encouragement is not simply telling someone what they want to hear to appease them or make them feel better. The art of encouragement does not include looking past what needs to be done or embraced. Rather it is coming along side of someone at the right moment, with the right words and telling them what they need to hear.
The impact of encouragement.
Encouragement produces powerful neurological and physiological changes that researches have measured and documented.
What researchers are finding is that the positive emotions you experience from encouragement broadens your mind and builds resourcefulness that helps you become more resilient, improve relationships and raise performance.
Encouragement aimed at helping people focus on what they can control and making it their focus to do their best in every circumstance improves performance.
We flourish when the ratio of positive to negative is 3 to 1. In relationships the ratio is 5 to 1. Yet 80% of us rarely, if ever, reach that ratio on a daily basis.
Encouragement raises belief and helps us maintain a more positive outlook. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has found that when we experience positive emotions it sets us up to achieve more.
Dr. Fredrickson found that positive people achieve more effortlessly. Achieving and maintaining a positive outlook allows us to see new possibilities and respond effectively to adversity.
She calls it the “positivity ratio”. (Check it out by clicking on the link).
Five qualities of great encouragers.
- A genuine heart for people. Encouragers demonstrate a real and loving concern for people. They are keenly aware of when changing conditions and circumstances ignite fear, break hearts and rob passion.
- An empathetic ear. Encouragers actively listen with empathy. They consistently seek to understand people. They are as comfortable with your fears and failures as they are with your hopes and dreams.
- An eye for potential. Encouragers see people as storehouses of un- tapped potential. They don’t see you where you are. They see where you can go and enable the discovery and development of your unique gifts and talents.
- A consistent source of hope. Encouragers see circumstances and conditions as changeable. They consistently deliver words of hope that point you to the finish line.
- Setting a positive and inspiring example. In every role of their life encouragers are consistently the same. They are comfortable mixing with people from every area of their life because they are the same publicly, privately and personally.
If you want to take people to places they couldn’t go on their own you must master the art of encouragement. In an outcome centric culture, we lose sight of the importance of the process. Encouragement is critical to the process and encouragers are many things but they are not soft.
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