Encourage People With Words of Affirmation
One of My Best Memories
When I was in first grade, my teacher asked me to draw a pair of mittens on a transparency for an upcoming school assembly. I still remember how my spirits soared as I glided the colored markers across the novel, slippery surface while attempting to draw my best mittens.
Of all the students in the class, my teacher had chosen me for this project. Perhaps without even realizing it, Mrs. Jarvis had encouraged me by verbally affirming a talent she noticed I had.
Remembering that day always warms my heart, ironically, much like a pair of mittens might warm someone’s hands on a cold, frosty day.
Who Has Encouraged You?
Most of us can think of at least one person who has encouraged us with their affirming words through our life journey, and to whom we in great part attribute who we have become and what we have achieved.
It may have been a parent, grandparent, religious leader, or coach. Perhaps it was a boss, colleague, or teacher.
For many of us, it was a combination of people.
Can you think of someone who has encouraged you with their words of affirmation?
Ways to Encourage People Every Day
Every day we cross paths with people who are beaten down and discouraged. Each of us is in a position to instill hope and confidence in them by simply offering words of affirmation.
Store Employees. Thank them for taking the time to help you find a product and for doing so with kindness and a positive attitude. Let the manager know when a specific employee stands out among the others by his excellent customer service.
Retail Store Managers. Send a note or make a phone call to let them know specifically why you choose to give them your business. Most companies receive more complaints than compliments from their customers, even though the total number of customers complaining may constitute a small percentage of their total customers. Break the trend by offering your words of affirmation.
Athletes. Encourage an athlete you know by showing up and cheering him on at one of his sporting events. If it’s a race, consider volunteering to hand out water and snacks during or after the event. Seek out the athlete to commend him for a great match, game or race.
Artists. Encourage an artist you know by visiting one of his photography exhibits, musical performances, or art shows. If you can, purchase one of his pieces. Hang around after the show to express your appreciation for his unique talent.
If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.— Ruthie LIndsey
Teachers. Express gratitude to a teacher for her efforts, patience, and dedication to education. Most teachers work overtime all week and spend a good chunk of their weekends grading papers and preparing lesson plans. If you're a parent, support your child's teacher by donating tissues and other necessities for the classroom and include a heartfelt note of appreciation for all she does.
Children. Encourage a child for his unique academic, artistic or social talent by offering words of praise. It may be his mathematical abilities, creative thinking skills, endless sense of humor, or compassion towards others. Every child should be affirmed for the special gift he brings to the world. Children can also be taught to encourage one another with specific words of affirmation.
Caretakers. Encourage somebody who is caring for a family member and in some cases, is watching their loved one degenerate daily. The emotional toll this takes on the caretaker can be high, such as when the patient has Alzeimer's and ceases to recognize his own son or daughter who is caring for him. Offer the caretaker a break by taking over some of his responsibilities or taking him out for dinner.
The Boss. Encourage your boss for his leadership and support with a remembrance during the holidays and an acknowledgment on Boss’s Day. Often we think of people in positions of leadership as not in need of encouragement when in reality they may receive limited words of affirmation from other sources. It can be lonely at the top.
Employees. Encourage your employees by noticing and rewarding great work. Always precede suggestions for improvement with praise for successful accomplishments. I have had two bosses who would leave messages on my desk for specific positive behavior they “caught me” engaging in. These were the bosses who most motivated me to stretch and grow as a professional. Many years later, I still have their notes of encouragement!
Colleagues. Encourage colleagues by taking time to get to know them. By listening to them talk about their lives and families, we can learn how to reach out to them in meaningful ways. For example, if we discover they don’t have family in town, we can invite them over for a holiday meal.
Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners. Encourage entrepeneurs and small business owners by giving them your business and by leaving positive comments and reviews on their professional websites as well as on consumer sites, by referring family and friends to them, and by handing out their business cards to people you meet who are looking for a specific service.
Three Specific Ways to Use Words to Encourage People
Speak to them directly. Many of us cross paths with people regularly, such as when we show up at work or go shopping. This gives us natural opportunities to speak words of affirmation to people in our everyday lives.
Send a card. E-card sites are convenient ways to select and send a card appropriate for the occasion. Personally, I don’t think anything can replace a handwritten card sent through regular “snail mail.” Many stores carry blank ones so you can write your own message of affirmation specific to the person and situation.
Make a phone call. If you know an important event is coming up, such as a test or an interview, a phone call is a significant way to let your friend or family member know you're thinking of them and that you believe in them. Articulate their talents and skills to fill them with courage and confidence!
Clearly, the list of people we can encourage with words of affirmation doesn't end here. Anybody we come in contact with on a regular or sporadic basis can be uplifted by the words we use to affirm a unique talent, skill or quality we notice they possess.
We never know the impact our words can have on someone and on the decisions they make on their life journey. For all we know, we could be that person they later recall as having planted the hope and courage they needed to achieve their goals and dreams.
As for me, when I feel discouraged staring at the blank drawing paper, I think of my first grade teacher and the confidence she instilled in me by asking me to draw a pair of mittens.
Questions & Answers
© 2015 Geri McClymont