The power of encouragement

Curium | 14 Nov 2017 | News | General, Deliver Change

Senior Consultant, Chris Prees, explains how encouraging those around you can promote a more positive environment.

As we go through life there are often times when we look back and say to ourselves, “If only I’d known that back then.”

Having been a manager of numerous individuals and teams in my working career, one thing I don’t see often enough is people encouraging one another.

I have been exploring coaching techniques: tools that will enable me to tackle the more difficult conversations and tools to help people think and behave differently. In any coaching methodology, there is the element of encouragement.

American scholar William Arthur Ward said: “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticise me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may not forgive you. Encourage me and I will not forget you.”

When we look back, we remember the people who have had a positive influence on our lives, those who encouraged us when we were feeling down and needed to hear a positive word. Those are the times that define us and influence our future. Those are the times we never forget.

In my experience, the power of encouragement is widely underestimated. Just one word to someone could encourage them to carry on performing or to behave differently in a challenging situation. But, how many times do we offer that one word? How many times do we actively seek to encourage someone? My guess is not often enough.

Lately, my project team has become despondent through the trials and challenges of time-driven delivery. I reflected and realised that I wasn’t being as relational and encouraging as I could have been. I was more focused on tasks than on people and behavioural dynamics. So, I made a commitment at Curium’s year start event to make some small, yet powerful, changes.

One is establishing a daily stand-up session – just 10 minutes each day to take stock and take time to encourage the team, sometimes individually but, more often, collectively. We go around the room and rate our current professional and personal well-being on a scale of 1-10. I then challenge and encourage them in their score. Very quickly, other team members have followed suit in encouraging and challenging.

The simple act of caring and listening can sometimes be enough to turn the tide for individuals and the team.

Has it worked? Since taking the time to actively encourage one another, the atmosphere has changed for the better and I have seen a marked change in behaviour.

People are much more positive. They can see the things they can influence as well as the things they can’t, and they take the time to work out how to deal with them. There is a distinct feeling of achievement already: success and willingness to go the extra mile.

The dictionary definition of encouragement is this: “To give support or hope, to incite, promote or advance, to increase confidence.”

With an increased level of confidence, people are capable of so much more. I have seen it play out in my team.

With more confidence they can access their best selves, call on all of their abilities and influence more positively. Ultimately, they infect the atmosphere with a can-do attitude, which directly influences the outlook of others and the experience they have each day.

The team is now succeeding even more than before. Feelings of exhaustion and stress have been replaced by excitement and anticipation.

So, encourage and be encouraged! By encouraging someone else you may even change your own mind-set and thinking, influencing your own behaviour for the good.

Do not underestimate the power that your words and encouragement will have on your team, colleagues, family and friends.

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