I just love it when I “catch” employees doing it with love.
A park ranger was standing in 95 degree heat and humidity. All day long she moved her ladder to the spot where a friend or relative could see the name of their loved one inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
I watched for a while. Each time, the ranger gently created a rubbing of the name of a fallen loved one and handed the paper to the recipient with a caring tenderness. She understood that her job had meaning. It wasn’t just a job to her.
If someone recorded you at work, what would they see?
How do you know if a person needs encouragement?
If they are breathing!
If you know me, you know I believe in the power of appreciation and encouragement. None of us get enough of it. So, if you read many, or any, of my blogs, you know I write about this a lot. Here are some practical tips for giving more encouragement to the people around you.
On the way to the parking lot, elevator or bathroom (pick your favorite), always find someone to encourage. Can’t find anyone? Send a text of encouragement.
Set a reminder on your calendar to send an email, text, or make a phone call of appreciation. Have the reminder repeat daily. Okay, you can take your birthday off.
Never eat lunch until you have told someone something they are doing well.
Begin every meeting noticing something that is going well.
Bring 20 note cards to work each month. Use them up each month. Repeat. In the note card write things like, “Enid, thanks for putting in a good word for the research team when you spoke to the board,” or “Ralph, when I was walking into work today I noticed you stopped and picked up trash. Thank you.”
Put up a whiteboard in the break room. Write down something great that you noticed about a colleague every day. “Saresh always makes me laugh.” “Ashley is so efficient.” Be prepared to run out of white board space as others will join in.
If you feel encouragement is important, make time for it.
What are your best ways to encourage others?
When my son was in the second grade, I volunteered in his class. It was a classroom with eight very gifted, yet very challenging, young boys. One particular afternoon, one of the little boys in the class was particularly cranky and angry. I asked the teacher, “How do you reach him?” And she said, “It’s easy. I just give him a genuine compliment.” I replied, “How do you do that on a day like today? He hasn’t done anything to compliment.” And she said, “I come up with something, even if it’s just, ‘I like your t-shirt,’ or ‘I like the way you part your hair.'” Incredulous, I repeated that to her, “I like the way you part your hair?!” “Yes, on the days he’s so upset, so angry, so downtrodden, on those days he’ll accept any compliment. He’s so hungry for someone to notice something positive about him, to throw him a bone, even saying, ‘I like the way you part your hair’ is helpful to him.”
Wow. I found this amazing, and I gave it a try. I looked for big, important things that he and the other students were doing, but when I couldn’t find any, I would say something simple like, “I’m glad you’re thinking about the assignment. I can see the wheels are turning in your head.” Or, “You have your paper out. That’s the first step.”
I find this strategy to be true in my work life as well. Sometimes it’s really difficult for me to find something positive to say to some of the people I have been hired to coach. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want coaching. They never signed up for it. They’re not really motivated by the possibility of growth. In these moments, I say the simplest things, the most obvious things. “Thank you for showing up. Thank you for giving it a try. Thank you for considering what I’m saying.”
Unfortunately, the negative stuff takes up more of our time and our energy. But when we focus on the positive, the positives grow. Here are some things for you to notice:
I like that you followed up.
I like that you started the conversation.
Thank you for drawing it to my attention.
Thank you for doing the research that you’ve done.
Thank you for telling me that you’re going to need some help.
Thank you for letting me know you need more time.
And if all else fails you can always resort to, “I like the way you part your hair.” It will work for all but the bald ones.