Effective leaders make a difference by choosing encouraging words to build up members of their organization whether they report to them or not. Sharing encouraging words is a leadership tool that has never gone out of style. It’s especially important during challenging times. Right now many people struggle with uncertainty and the pesky anxiety that accompanies it. Show me a person who says they don’t need a word of encouragement during this trying time, and I’ll show you a person who’s probably not being honest.
Courage is from a Latin root word that means “strength of heart.” Therefore, to encourage someone is to “provide strength of heart to another person.” Is there anything more noble than this act? Again, it’s particularly significant during dark times. I’m constantly amazed how many people, when given this gift of encouragement, respond by saying, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that right now.” This is less about the eloquence of the words themselves and more about how infrequently most people receive encouragement.
The vast majority of people never grasp the importance of the words they choose, and the powerful nature of their words as well. Words have a profound duality as they can build up or tear down – we get to make this crucial choice. No one makes this choice for us. We have control over what happens in our 20 square feet, including our word choice. When it comes to our words, all too frequently people don’t Press Pause to Get Their Mind Right. As a result, default rules the day. Only the disciplined individual takes the time to intentionally, purposefully and skillfully Press Pause in order to measure their words. A relevant question during that pause is, “Will this comment edify the other person…will it build them up?” Because the disciplined person knows just how much our words affect the recipient.
Many adults act like they can’t be hurt by words. They’re wrong. We’ve all heard that a word spoken in anger or haste, a word spoken out of proper context, a misdirected word can wound a child for years…perhaps a lifetime. The reality is most kids never outgrow that. Adults crave words of encouragement just like children; we just don’t always act like it. But make no mistake, the people around your 20 square feet – the ones you can impact and influence – desire your approval and to be told they’re valuable. If you’re in a position of leadership (more people are in such positions than realize it), the good folks under your charge strive for your approval. A well-timed word from you can propel them to greater heights.
Yes, formulating an encouraging message causes the speaker to Press Pause and Get Your Mind Right, but it actually has a similar effect on the receiver of the message. A well-timed word of encouragement causes the recipient to Press Pause and ponder the impact of such a message. The very nature of passing along words that build up another person also causes the hearer to consider their mindset. Maybe they’re in a positive mindset full of disciplined thoughts. But more than likely, they’ve drifted into default and instead of controlling their self-talk, they’ve fallen into the trap of letting their self-talk control them. Often the antidote for a negative mindset on default is to break the cycle by hearing affirming words that refocus one’s mind into a positive place.
In addition to Press Pause and Get Your Mind Right, there’s another key discipline in play here – Make a Difference. There are few things in our world that can truly Make a Difference in the lives of other people like edifying them with a few thoughtful words of praise. Of course not every day is full of rainbows, butterflies and puppy kisses. But don’t hesitate to raise up an individual who has accomplished good things in your organization or family. Let them know you appreciate their hard work in getting to a milestone, whether it’s the finish line or a key progress marker. Raise and praise.
There are those people who say, “I don’t like to praise and pat people on the back because they’ll lose their motivation.” Hardly. While negative stimulus may have its place in leading people, the majority of time you can move an individual or team to the next level through positive reinforcement. “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” isn’t just about picnic management. There’s leadership wisdom and truth in that old saying.
Here’s the bottom line: at the tip of your tongue, at the tip of your pen, with the stroke of a keyboard, you have the ability to make someone’s day or break their day. When done skillfully, you can make not just their day, but their entire week. And positive strokes tend to perpetuate themselves. Those who see an effective leader nudge people forward with encouraging words will want to replicate the positive production that results. Not to mention it makes for a kinder, more fun workplace. It’s no secret that happy workers are more effective, efficient workers.
So Press Pause to Get Your Mind Right and ultimately Make a Difference in someone’s life. This is why The R Factor is such a powerful tool set – it works at home, at school, on the practice field or in the office. Encourage people for the good of everyone involved. Everybody wins – you, the recipient of positive strokes and your team/organization. After all, how many other things can you do in the course of a day that consistently moves the needle in the right direction across the board!