We don’t always realize the impact that our words and actions can have on the lives of those around us. Something I’m learning every day is how my words and actions can affect those around me (even if it’s not intentional). It’s so important to speak encouraging words and share encouraging gestures. Last week in my column for The Minto Express, I shared 10 ways to encourage others. Easy and practical, these are suggestions I’m challenging myself to practice more diligently.
The ‘E’ Word
You know those people in your life with whom you absolutely love spending time? What draws you to them? Consider all the people you’ve encountered, both past and present, who have made an impact on your life. Our biggest influencers are individuals who challenge us and move us to become better people; individuals who encourage.
I love the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for the word encourage: “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” The first known use of the word was in the 15th century, the Middle English encoragen, from the Anglo-French encourager, ‘en’ being French for ‘in’ + courage (‘cor’ is Latin for ‘heart’).
Each of us has the potential to become a person who encourages. That’s an incredible ability! Think about how many people you see each day. Some of them you may know personally, some of them you may see today but never again in your life. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we each attempted to encourage every person with whom we had a personal encounter? That’s a powerful thought.
Providing encouragement can be easy; it doesn’t require some grand gesture. Here are ten ways we can all incorporate a little ‘in’ courage into the lives of others:
- Be sincere – Authenticity is everything.
- Be specific – This goes for all of the points below. Encouragement doesn’t work when it’s generic. You’ve got to be personal.
- Listen – Encouraging another isn’t about providing advice, in fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Sometimes what a discouraged, weary soul needs is an open ear.
- Smile – Try putting it into practice every day. While thinking, or listening to another, we can subconsciously take on a more serious expression. Remember to smile!
- Give recognition – When someone does something outstanding that you think is awesome, recognize it!
- Give recognition to an everyday event – Don’t wait until something huge happens to encourage someone. Start with their everyday life and provide a word of affirmation. It will work wonders.
- Show Gratitude – We should all make it a daily practice to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. [Try combining numbers 4 and 7 and see how well it works.]
- Share Something – Have you been thinking about or praying for someone? Tell them about it! Give them a call, write them a quick note, send them a text. Knowing that you’ve got others who believe in you can make all the difference in the world.
- Offer practical help – Someone you know is going through a trying time. Ask them specifically if there’s an area in which you can assist them. [see also number 2. Instead of saying, “Do you need anything?” why not say “Could I help you by ___?”]
- Practice the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Knowing the difference that encouragement has made in your own life, why not spread some of that courage to the hearts of others!