Skip to main content

How to Encourage People With Words of Affirmation

Geri McClymont believes that people matter and that a life well lived is a life lived in service to others.

Words are powerful tools we can use to encourage others.

Words are powerful tools we can use to encourage others.

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 frosty day.

Who has encouraged you through your life journey?

Who has encouraged you through your life journey?

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.

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 worker 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 grumblers may constitute a small percentage of their total customers. Break the trend by offering your words of affirmation.

Encourage an athlete by cheering her on at one of her games.

Encourage an athlete by cheering her on at one of her games.


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.


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

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Remedygrove


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.


Encourage a child for his unique gift or 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.

Encourage a child by affirming him for a skill he has learned.

Encourage a child by affirming him for a skill he has learned.


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 covering some of his responsibilities or taking him out for dinner.


Do you have a pastor, priest, minister or rabbi? Spiritual leaders often work tirelessly to meet the needs of others. The long hours and sacrifices they make are often unseen. Send a card with a message that expresses something specific you are grateful to them for, such as a specific sermon they preached. Be sure to include why it was meaningful to you.

Your 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 that people in positions of leadership don't need to be uplifted when in reality, they may receive limited words of affirmation from other sources. It can be lonely at the top.

Encourage a construction worker by thanking him for keeping your road safe.

Encourage a construction worker by thanking him for keeping your road safe.


Encourage your employees by noticing and rewarding great work. Always precede suggestions for improvement with praise for successful accomplishments. I had two bosses who would leave messages on my desk for specific positive behavior they “caught me” engaging in. These were the employers who most motivated me to stretch and grow as a professional. Many years later, I still have their notes of praise.


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. Leave positive comments and reviews on their professional websites and on consumer sites. Refer them to family and friends by handing out their business cards to people you meet who are looking for a specific service.

Sending cards and notes with a handwritten message are meaningful ways to encourage others.

Sending cards and notes with a handwritten message are meaningful ways to encourage others.

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 shop for groceries. 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!

We never know how our words may help others blossom.

We never know how our words may help others blossom.

Final Thoughts

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.

© 2015 Geri McClymont


Geri McClymont (author) on December 10, 2017:

Thanks for your comment, Mary. Seems like we can all use a reminder sometimes.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 10, 2017:

You are right. There are so many ways we can encourage people during the day. Time to do it. Thanks for the reminder.

Geri McClymont (author) on February 13, 2016:

Bill: Often our own schooling experiences shape how we teach without even realizing it. As a teacher, I too have learned that students respond best when I use positive affirmation and encouragement. Thanks for your comments and for stopping by.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 13, 2016:

I think back to my eighteen years of teaching and I know there was a huge change in me...I learned, gradually, that you got more out of students with affirmation and encouragement. It seems obvious now, but starting out, and coming from a Catholic school education in the 60s, it was not obvious at all. :) Anyway, great article.

Geri McClymont (author) on January 04, 2016:

Thanks for stopping by, sujaya.

Geri McClymont (author) on January 01, 2016:

Thanks for stopping by, Marlene. So true that combining words with actions has a greater impact. Happy New Year to you as well!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on December 31, 2015:

These are all wonderful ways to encourage people. Actions plus words are very powerful and lasting. Wonderful hub. Have a Happy New Year!

Geri McClymont (author) on December 31, 2015:

Thank you for your comment, Namaste. I can only imagine your children and friends' hearts also smile when they receive your notes of encouragement.

Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on December 31, 2015:

I really like your suggestions. I try to send notes of encouragement in the mail to my children and friends every month. It reminds me of how much I love them all, and it makes my heart smile.


sujaya venkatesh on December 15, 2015:

a trend to positive thinking

Geri McClymont (author) on December 10, 2015:

Thank you for your comments, Anne. I agree that it really does make such a difference. Words of encouragement have often brightened my day and served to propel me forward to face life's challenges with greater spirit and resilience. It is sad that teachers do not receive more positive affirmation.

Anne Harrison from Australia on December 09, 2015:

Very pertinent points. I often feel, with my kids at school, that parents only ever make appointments to see teachers to complain, never to say thank you. It holds true for many other professions and walks of life. Such a little effort which makes such a difference.

Geri McClymont (author) on December 09, 2015:

Thank you, whonu, for your comment. I'm glad you were encouraged by the article.

whonunuwho from United States on December 09, 2015:

I really liked your positive affirmation here my friend. Well done and well received. whonu

Ann Carr from SW England on December 09, 2015:

Yes, indeed, and thank you for following me.


Geri McClymont (author) on December 09, 2015:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Ann. It really is beautiful when we can see firsthand the impact our words can have on others by that "glow" in their faces. Often we don't get to see it, but when we do see it, it is a beautiful thing. I too am a teacher so I can relate to what you shared. It is such a privilege to be in a position of praising children, especially when they have become so accustomed to believing they are failures.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 09, 2015:

Great hub! It's so important to concentrate on the positive and on the talents people have, be they artistic, friendly, good at their job or whatever, as you say.

Time and time again I've seen students 'glow' at praise and reward for a job well done, sometimes the first time they've been treated that way, especially my dyslexic students who needed all the ego-boosts they could get.

I've also found that complimenting sales people in shops can make their day; it's so easy to complain but we should balance one complaint out with at least two compliments, I think. I've even said something in the street when I've noticed someone being kind or helpful, especially a child.



Geri McClymont (author) on December 07, 2015:

Thank you for sharing about the people that have most encouraged you, Ms. Dora. It is so true that we can model those who have encouraged us by encouraging others.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 07, 2015:

There are people who stand out in my memory also when I think of encouragement. My grandmothers are high on my list. I try to imitate them by encouraging the younger members in my extended family. Good message.

Geri McClymont (author) on December 06, 2015:

Thank you for your comment, Jodah. I am trying to be more mindful of this as well. I think we all tend to forget about the positives sometimes.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 06, 2015:

You have really said some important things here Geri. We are always quick to complain when we receive bad service or a product doesn't meet our expectations, but we don't often take the time to offer praise for the same things. We should always offer encouragement and support others when we can. Thank you for writing this.

Related Articles