Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I recently came across this quote as I did my seemingly minute-by-minute review of my Twitter feed. (Yes, I admit, I’m a bit of a social media junkie – but that’s a topic for a future blog.) Reading this particular post caused me to pause, though – struck with the volume of truth this simple statement resonated.
It’s so easy to hurry through the day – to meet your deadlines, to get to the kids’ little league games on opposite sides of town, to get the 101 tasks done at home. Before you know it, you are so caught up — that you may forget to really take time for someone else before you collapse into bed at night. And, believe me, I’m preaching to the choir here. But I’ve picked up a few valuable tips along the way and wanted to encourage you.
1. Make a compliment sandwich. You may have heard this before, but it’s a great reminder. In haste, it’s easy to only pick out the negative. Sometimes frustration gets the best of us – I get it. And most of us don’t mean it. But, let’s admit that the heat of the moment is never normally our shining moment. Whether it’s with a co-worker, or with your child — be sure when you have criticism to relay, that you surround it with good. After all, criticism without the “constructive part” just stinks. Without a doubt, the person on the receiving end will feel better about their ability – despite the setback – and I’d be willing to bet that she will exceed your expectations on the next go-round.
2. There’s something to be said about a handwritten note. Awhile ago, I participated in “40 Days of Community – Better Together” by pastor and best selling author Rick Warren. During the course of the series, he challenges you to write thank-you notes to each person you work with.
Not because they gave you something or did something for you.
You fill in the blank.
Well, to make a long story short — I sat down one night and thoughtfully wrote out 10 notes and put them in each person’s sort module the next morning. I’ll never forget the change I noticed around the office after that — particularly the appreciative spark in one co-worker’s eyes when she in turn thanked me for the kind words, since she had been going through a difficult time at home.
Perhaps a co-worker has shown vast improvement in his work, or you admire your friend’s passion for what they do, despite the daily grind. The possibilities are endless. So, grab your favorite pen and dig out that stationary you know you bought sometime before the dawn of email — and write that thank-you note!
3. Observe your surroundings. While you are at the office (or wherever your life leads you today), take some time to really look around. I mean, take the noise-cancelling headphones off…and really take in your surroundings. Maybe you’ve noticed that a co-worker has seemed off her game this week. Slow down, peek over the cubicle wall or walk across the room; Ask how they are and if you can help. They may not feel inclined to share all the details, but guaranteed they’ll appreciate that you took the time to encourage them. You might even strike up a new friendship or deepen one that’s already there.
I admit that I can be just as guilty as the next person — “thinking” the nice things and not always following through with saying them — distracted with the busy-ness that surrounds me.
So let’s make a change.
Slow down (as much as you can).
Take a look around.
Intentionally encourage (at least) one person this week. You’ll be glad you did!