He stepped up to the free throw line, took a deep breath and calmly swished the ball through net. What was a normal routine turned abnormal. Noticing some teammates who were in the wrong position, he instructed them where they should be at instead of demanding they go to a certain spot. He spoke in an almost gentle voice instead of an exasperated voice. He was encouraging instead of critical.
And I was deeply proud of him.
My friend is really kind, but he is also a really competitive basketball player and like many other super-competitive people, he often resorts to criticizing others in order to motivate them. However, I think we can learn from him that every person in any situation can better motivate others by being encouraging.
Q: What are the benefits to using encouragement instead of criticisms?
- People become more willing to listen to you. Harsh criticism can turn people off to you, causing you to lose credibility and not get your message across because they shut down.
- It creates a healthier relationship. Encouraging people helps to build them up and develop trust, as opposed to tearing them down and creating a relationship based on fear.
Q: What about constructional criticisms?
I think we can say confidently constructional criticism different than criticism. People can usually discern whether a criticism directed at them is constructional, derogatory or exasperatory. If we are going to criticize in a constructional manner, we can’t just have good intentions (anyone who criticizes can rationalize that), but we must make sure that the message we intend gets across. So we must make sure we speak in a sensitive manner that builds the other person up.
Q: What about the stubborn person who won’t listen? Sometimes you have to just let loose and lit a fire under them!
Encouragement is not synonymous with weakness. It is possible to encourage, but also to be firm. If needed, setting deadlines, goals, ultimatums, etc can be helpful. If you let loose a tirade on them, all that will accomplish is temporary personal gratification for you. The most likely result is that you will lose that person mentally.
We all have relationships and people that we work with. We all need each other to accomplish goals. The key to motivating others is not through harsh berating, but through words of encouragement.
Words of Ancient Wisdom
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Proverbs 12:18 (NLT)
Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim. Provers 15:4 (MSG)