How to Encourage Others

The fluffy black and white Border collie pup defiantly tugged on her leash, whimpering and backing away from her frustrated owner . “Ignore her,” the dog trainer in the center of the room commanded. “She wants your attention and affection. Just keep looking away from her.”

Soon, the fussing and pulling stopped, and the puppy sat quietly next to her master’s feet.

“Now pet her and tell her she’s a good girl,” the trainer instructed. “Let her know she is now doing the right thing.”

This simple technique at the heart of most animal training – from cute puppies to killer whales – focuses on reinforcing the desired action, and pretty much ignoring the unwanted behavior. It’s not only a powerful training tool for animals; It’s been proven to work quite well with people, too.

The most effective parents, teachers, leaders and companies know that spending more time validating and less time correcting yields more immediate and lasting positive results. While one-on-one feedback is motivating, publicly acknowledging a person’s contributions can be even more powerful. Praising a person in front of their peers boosts their self-confidence to new levels, and encourages them to continue to produce quality work.

There are several tried and true methods of encouraging others. First, remind them of how they’ve succeeded in the past. A teacher saying, “You did a great job on your last paper” as she’s making the new assignment is simultaneously boosting her students’ confidence and encouraging them to excel again.

When people are facing a particularly challenging situation, help them break it down into manageable steps. Congratulating them as they complete each part motivates them to continue, and helps them maintain a positive attitude as they forge ahead.

Never diminish the importance of another person’s feelings. Saying things that minimize their apprehension, like, “It’s just not that big a deal,” can make them feel angry, betrayed or panicky. Too frequently the cause of an employee getting discouraged is she or he feels they’re out of the loop, or don’t really understand what’s being required of them.

Listen to their concerns without judgment, and let them know you respect their input. Then, clarify the goals, and together, come up with a practical and realistic plan to make it work.

Sometimes the most effective encouragement can be a little compassion and empathy. Whether it’s a teen trying to drum up the courage to ask his crush on a date, or a colleague who’s swamped with projects, just taking the time to listen sympathetically may be all they need to move ahead with renewed confidence.

We encourage you to open your mind to positive, powerful and lasting changes when you embark on a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.