Encouragement : your superpower
The power of a self motivated individual who is approaching life in a positive mindset is an incredible thing.
As a leader building self motivation in the team around you is a fundamental skill, without it or at least an understanding of it you aren't leading, you're managing. More broadly I believe, as a human, building up those around you is the key to strong fruitful relationships.
The key to achieving both of those outcomes is how you employ encouragement. I feel we should view each episode of encouragement as the bricks that build strong relationships across the spectrum. The key rule is to make sure it's valid encouragement not some made up shite. Your encouragement needs to have substance and be based in some form of reality.
Now to be clinical about this, and put my business head on. A business needs leaders who can inspire and motivate those, who work for the business, to work towards the goals of the business. If it doesn't have this then the workers across the business are likely to apply the bare minimum of effort in a manner that gets them through the drudgery of an 8 hour work day. But if a leader can inspire self motivation within the individual the drudgery of an 8 hour day is flipped into a series of opportunities to overcome hurdles and display creativity. The individuals intellect is triggered and they proactively attack problems rather then skirt around them or just accept them. So it's in the interest of the business to allow people to lead rather then manage. Creating this self motivated positive individual is done one brick at a time through the use of multiple methods but one key aspect is encouragement.
Helping someone self motivate and see the positive view point in a situation isn't just for the world of business its for anyone who interacts with other humans. We all have a duty to be optimistic. Optimism no matter how stupid or illogical it may seem is pivotal to happiness and success. Be fucking optimistic! Encouragement comes out of optimism and I believe there is a close link between the two behaviours.
How can you inspire positive sentiment in those around you? Try adopting a policy of encouraging, dragging up rather than berating or disparaging, this ability to pull people up is your superpower.
It's a fairly simple skill, but the art of encouragement comes when you can use it to help others grow and learn. It's not easy to turn someones performance around without using any negativity or 'constructive criticism' but it is entirely possible. If someone does 99% of the job terribly but the other 1% is good, the easy / lazy thing to do is point out the 99%. The long term/smarter move is to highlight the 1% and explain why it's good. The individual then next time round may still perform in a terrible way but I'll bet they aren't as terrible, maybe 96% bad and 4% good.
Crucially in this example this individual has turned their situation around through self motivation to gain that encouragement again.
It sounds a lot like how you are meant to train a puppy, and news flash, we are a lot closer to animals than we think. Our instincts and subconscious are still affected to a huge degree by what we consume through our mouth, ears and eyes. Why do you think social media has been so widely successful? Because it taps into our primeval system that triggers dopamine and oxytocin hits which make us feel good so we go back for more.
Encouragement has the same effect in my opinion and experience. This is why it's a superpower and key to unlocking your potential as a leader and as a decent person. How can you motivate your team through encouragement? How can you build up those around you?
It will require some thought and you might have to prepare the way for its use but give it a go and see what happens.
Really the purpose behind this article is I think we are inherently fearful individuals who believe encouragement can be seen as a sign of weakness or of indicating your interest in someone. I believe you need to look passed the opinions of others and think of how that individual will benefit from that encouragement or compliment. And yes a compliment is a form of encouragement, it's probably the easiest method of offering encouragement.
Outside of work or business an innocent compliment can go a long way to build relationships/helping lift someone, that's the goal at the end of the day how can we be build up those around us rather then letting them drop to the level social media and the world puts them.
Some things I challenge you to try;
Give an acquaintance , someone you remotely know, a compliment. And just see what happens. I bet they smile and your relationship improves.
As a leader at work try and identify a time to lead through encouragement rather than focussing on the negative.
As a senior leader try and think of ways you can use encouragement to shape the culture from the top?
In summary, encourage people, focus on the positive not the negative and use the carrot not the stick. The ability to encourage is your superpower! It's as close to jedi mind tricks as you are going to get.