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The Art of Encouragement

Recently, I found myself in an interesting discussion with my good friend and walking buddy. We first met years ago when both of us were starting our careers at IBM. As we reminisced about the “good old days”, we remembered some of our early mentors who showed us the ropes, provided us with knowledge and insights. Perhaps one of their greatest gifts to us was the Art of Encouragement. As we reflected on “then” and “now” what hit us between the eyes is how seldom people take time to encourage others today. It seems communication has become more efficient, but is it really effective?

In our virtual world of email, conference calls, blackberries and the plethora of other high tech tools, we have had to learn to juggle so many priorities at once. Who has time to spend encouraging a co-worker? And yet, how many of us are where we are today because of those who made the time to encourage us and mentor us along the way.

So, why does encouragement matter? What are the benefits of encouragement? I gave it some thought, and have listed here some of the key benefits for everyone involved.


* Builds self-confidence
* Creates an ally
* Provides feedback on what they are doing well
* Circumvents mistakes, wasted time


* Strengthens the relationship
* Provides opportunity to “teach” others
* Creates an ally
* Expands one’s expertise by teaching/modeling for someone else


* Strengthens succession planning
* Creates bench strength in emerging leaders
* Passes on “tribal knowledge” within organization
* Solidifies/deepens corporate culture

What benefits would you add to this list? Think of a person in your life who has encouraged you along the way. What kind of a difference have they made in your life? Have you taken the time to thank them? If not now, when? Send them a card, give them a call, or offer to take them to lunch. Let them know how much their encouragement has meant to you. I can guarantee it will make their day.

So, how do you go about encouraging someone else? Here are some keys to encouragement.


* Look for opportunities to encourage
* Give encouragement freely
* Be sincere and specific
* Find ways to make it easy
* Make it a habit
* Take the time
* Watch what happens!

Remember that you had many encouragers along your journey. Take time to do the same for others. Practice the Art of Encouragement.

Paula K. Switzer is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and contributing author on the subjects of leadership, team building and communication. Free audio mini-course. Other articles.