How often to you give or receive encouragement? If you were asked to encourage 5 people a day, would you find it challenging? I was asked to do this recently and it was more difficult than I thought it would be. It seemed forced and perhaps insincere. At the same time, I was hoping that it didn’t come across superficial. Realizing that most of us aren’t used to giving and receiving compliments unless maybe from a close friend, family member, or significant other, it kept me from feeling like a complete phony. After all, if it doesn’t come readily, the only way to learn is by practicing.

Think about the last time you gave encouragement. Maybe, you are one of the few people naturally gifted in encouraging others. But if you’re like the majority of us, it is something that you have to intentionally practice in order for it to become something that flows with more regularity and normalcy.

Now, think about the last time you received encouragement at work. Outside of a yearly review highlighting your strengths and weaknesses, when was the last time someone gave you a verbal pat-on-the-back? Wouldn’t you feel good about yourself, and be likely to work harder if someone made you feel appreciated? On the reverse, when is the last time you let someone else know that you noticed their hard work? Perhaps if you start offering words of encouragement, others will be likely to follow suit. So, what are some techniques that can be used to encourage fellow employees?

The following are practices I’ve seen implemented and proven effective:

1. When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise about the person’s abilities and/or accomplishments.

2. Write someone a personalized note with examples of things you have noticed them doing well, or improving on.

3. Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. For example, celebrate both large and small victories by getting coffee or lunch together; or something as simple a phone call, or a high-five.

4. Be specific when you offer words of praise by giving an example. In doing that, you give more credibility to your encouragement.

5. If someone in the office is working on a big project, send them something small to show them you are thinking of them and support their ability to do a great job. For example, maybe you know they like chocolate, so you get them a small box of chocolates.

6. Show genuine interest, let them know you care about them as a person.

7. Acknowledge what’s important to them. If you have spent time with this person, you start to learn what they care about or what their interests are and can ask questions about things that matter to them.

8. Say “Well done,” or “Great job,” sometimes if the person is in the middle of something challenging, a word of encouragement at the right time can be the difference of them giving up, or sticking it out to completion.

9. Say “Thank you.” A simple thank you lets others know that what they have done was noticed and appreciated.

10. Reciprocate the favor. If someone does something that you appreciate, a great way to show your gratitude is to return the favor.

Last, and maybe most complimentary, if you see someone doing an excellent job, send a note of commendation to their supervisor or boss making them aware of the hard work that you have seen from your co-worker.

Once you have put some of these techniques into practice, offering encouragement will start to feel more natural. More than likely you will enjoy doing it, and you will get value out of making others feel valued. The more you practice the better you will get, and it just might start a positive change of environment around the office. Sooner than later you will be comfortable giving words of praise and will start to generate your own ideas.

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