Two of the most powerful words that you can speak are, “Thank you.” Showing appreciation and gratitude are gestures that no one can ever get enough of. It can make someone’s day, pull someone out of a bad frame of mind, and affirm their behavior.
Don’t fight charity and gifts
Many people have a tendency to fight charity and gifts. You’ve likely seen someone playfully argue with someone else about getting a meal paid for. “You really don’t have to do that. No, no, I can pay for my own stuff. You don’t have to do that.” Maybe you’ve said those things to someone!
Part of the problem is that we can have difficulty accepting gifts. It can be rooted in a sense of pride or guilt that you don’t have anything to give in return. When you fight back against a gift or charity you are robbing the joy from the giver. They shouldn’t have to argue, playfully or seriously, to give you something. If you receive a gift or service, simply thank the person for the gesture and show your appreciation. Doing so affirms that they gave you something of value and makes them feel good for doing so.
Convey the meaning and impact of your thanks
Saying thanks and thank you can turn into the phrase, “How are you doing?” It’s a pleasantry that we truly don’t expect any answer back other than fine or good. Be sure to share the meaning and impact of your thanks from time to time to break up the monotony of just simply saying thanks.
Tell the person why you are thankful. “Thanks for doing this for me. This is really going to save me some time on my project.” “Thank you for mowing the yard. I know it’s a lot of work and hot out there today. It looks awesome!”
Giving them the why and impact of the thanks conveys an extra sense of appreciation and acknowledgment of what the person did for you.
Show thanks and gratitude in other ways.
Words are powerful and your actions can back those words up. Gifts, gestures, service are just a few of the ways you can show your gratitude besides just words. Don’t just do things for others after they first do something for you. Be proactive in looking for ways to surprise and delight others with your thanks appreciation and gratitude. Here are some areas to discover how you can show your gratitude:
Find out what their favorite snacks/restaurants.
Discover what their hobbies and interests are.
Understand what they love to do.
Understand what they really don’t like to do.
Are you saying thanks enough? Do your actions convey the same message? Increase your gratitude and strengthen your relationships.
Work hard, have fun, and make history. -Jeff Bezos
Have fun! It’s sometimes easier said than done. You can’t force someone to have fun. I remember when my dad would get on to me about something and we would then go out in public. He would stop and tell me to smile in a very unfriendly way. I wasn’t exactly inspired to put on a smiling face.
Even though you can’t force fun, you can make it more of a habit in your life. Here are some tips to draw out some fun and joy in your life.
Don’t worry about what others think
We tend to carry a heavy value on what other people think of us when we are in school. You don’t truly escape that want and need to be liked by others as you grow into an adult. A few do, but most are somewhere on the scale of desiring acceptance.
The desire to be accepted, or fear of being rejected depending on your perspective, holds many people back from having fun. Do your best to let go of that. I don’t mean showing up at work out of the blue in your PJs and a unicorn mask. Take baby steps. become more comfortable with yourself and give yourself the freedom to have fun.
It’s common for me to come downstairs, have a dance-off or training battle with my son, have a self-deprecating conversation with my daughter, and a fun talk with my wife. I believe that it’s important for your kids, spouse, significant other, and friends to see you having fun. Your joy gives them joy.
Make fun out of things you normally do
Look for ways to make some of the things that you do more fun. There are several out-of-the-box options available if you know where to look. When I first started to get into running, I found an app called Zombies, run! It has story-based missions where you go on supply runs and build up your base during the apocalypse. It certainly helped me get out and have fun on my runs. It played my music, I got to be a part of a serialized drama and I got my exercise in as well. If you need help to get some ideas, do a search for “fun things to do ______” The blank is your normal routine. Ex. while at work, on my commute, at home, with the kids, etc.
Ask people entertaining questions
This has been one that my wife and I have enjoyed this year. We meet weekly with a small group that we do life together with. It’s equal parts accountability, growth, socializing, and learning. We started kicking off our get-togethers with fun and entertaining questions. One was, “What is your favorite cereal?” That turned into a half-hour-long discussion of passion for cereal, remembering great ones that are now gone, funny stories involving cereal, and an idea to have a cereal social. Even questions and conversation starters that seem mundane can spark all kinds of fun discussions. If you need help here, do a search for fun topic starters or icebreakers.
Be yourself and have fun! Try to let go of what other people think of you and enjoy some fun moments throughout the week. Your mind and body will thank you.
Some of the most valuable assets in your life are your friends and family.
Encouragement with your friends and family is just as important as encouragement at work. As we get older, this one seems to slip away from us. Think back to your time in high school or college. Encouragement for your friends and family and the value of those relationships were likely very high. As you enter the job market, start a family and you or your friends move away, it becomes more difficult.
Here are some tips to ensure that you stay connected with those closest to you and how you can continue to encourage them.
The first rule is that you’ve got to reach out to the person. You’ve got to make the connection. It’s funny how we have more access to each other than we have ever had before, but it seems more difficult than ever to reach out in a meaningful way. In the hunt for likes, comments, and subs, we’ve missed out on some authenticity.
Listen without judgment
I know that this one can be really hard because we have a tendency to be more blunt and judgemental with those that we are really close to. A way to encourage others is to quiet the voice in your head that wants to jump in and tell the person what obviously is wrong in the situation. It may not even be the other person’s fault, but still, hold back judgment.
Learn their love language
For those not familiar, Gary Chapman released a book years ago called the 5 Love Languages. He goes on to explain how everyone has at least one language that they love and one that doesn’t mean anything to them. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Do you know someone who loves to hug it out? It’s pretty clear that they appreciate physical touch.
Understanding a person’s love language makes the encouragement go a lot further when it’s delivered in a way that matches the person.
Don’t try to take over
Have you ever been in a situation where you had something taken over from you or you took something over from someone else? You most often see this in teaching moments where the teacher/mentor/parent gets frustrated to the point that they take over whatever they were trying to teach the other person.
Don’t try to take over someone’s situation. My wife calls it “fixing”. You don’t have to fix every problem that a person brings to you. If they aren’t asking for help, it’s likely that the person just wants to talk it out with someone. Don’t break their trust by trying to fix their problems for them.
Be specific and change how you offer help
Have you noticed that when you ask someone a question like “How can I help?” or “Let me know what I can do.” that you don’t typically get a request back? Ask the question in a different way. “Would it be helpful if I……?”, or “I would like to do….” Asking in this way frames it up better for the person to accept your help and assistance.
Don’t forget to reach out and check in with your friends and family. Be an encouragement for them by connecting with them in a way that they love, avoiding judgment, or trying to fix the problem. Offer specific help when needed and be that encouragement that those close to you need.
No one has ever said, “Please stop encouraging me in my job.”
It’s always a great idea to encourage others in the workplace no matter what your level is in an organization. The ability to encourage others will serve you well throughout your career and can easily be a way for you to stand out against the crowd.
Here are five tips to strengthen how you encourage others at work.
1. Model the behavior/be happy yourself
You first have to demonstrate the attitude and behaviors that you want others to model before you move through any of the following steps. If you aren’t happy or come across as standoffish or always upset then your team will not be encouraged. Is this an area of struggle for you? You can hear more about it on Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast #13: Leaders don’t have bad days.
Showing happiness and joy is a cycle. The more you show and do, the more you will find around you.
2. Encourage friendships at work
I’ve always found that my teams were the strongest when they had relationships with each other outside of my influence. They would go hang out together after work and became a part of each other’s lives. I know that this topic makes some leaders (particularly those that have been around a while) uneasy. Several generations of leaders were brought up that you didn’t mix business with personal at all and they put up very hard lines between the two.
Our newer generations of leaders don’t operate the same way. They appreciate it when others have at least some knowledge of their personal lives. I’m not recommending that you get in the drama of everyone’s lives, but at least have an interest in people’s everyday lives outside of the workplace. What do they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What are they working on or towards? Any major life events coming up?
3. Help them understand the meaning and value of their work
Encourage others by helping the person see the value and impact of their work. The rise of internet retail has brought many new jobs in that sector, but many of those workers are discouraged and unhappy because they don’t see the value in shipping products from a warehouse alongside robots day in and day out.
Connect what they do to the bigger picture. Share stories of how their contribution impacted someone’s life. Take them to see the impact if possible. Being able to see the impact that you have on an organization, the country, and the world is very encouraging and rewarding.
4. Make time for your people
Just spending time with someone can be an encouragement as long as you are following tip #1. People know that you are busy and they appreciate you taking some time to spend with them. That could be working on a project together, going to lunch together, or just spending some time together between meetings or classes. Be sure not to skip on the small talk. It will help solidify tip #2 when you show that you care about someone’s personal life as well.
5. Show appreciation
When you see great behavior or a job well done, recognize it immediately. Recognizing others on a regular basis does not lessen the value of praise. The opposite is actually true. The more you recognize, the more you build someone’s confidence, enthusiasm, and willingness to keep pushing for excellence. If someone does something really over the top, it’s ok to recognize the moment and then come back later with a bigger thanks or reward. Just because you said thank you once, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it again.
Encourage your fellow workers. They need it no matter how great the culture of your team is.
How you define yourself determines your personal value. -Brian Bloye
Leadership and life are not all sunshine and roses. There are going to be times when you question your leadership, the direction of your life, and the decision that you made. Some of your sufferings will come from dumb decisions that you make. Others will come from things totally out of your control.
You either just walked out of a season of hurt, or you are on the way to a time of hurt. Be encouraged that you are not alone in this journey and that you have a great deal of influence on how long that journey is.
You are not defined by your suffering or challenges.
We all make mistakes in our leadership and in life in general. Those mistakes only define you if you allow them to. How you define yourself determines your personal value. Don’t sell yourself short by living with the failures and suffering of your life. If a lion believed that they were a house cat, do you think that it would live to its fullest potential? Would they live out their purpose? Not likely.
Are you a lion living like a house cat because of your hurt? Do you believe that you are the lion? I do. I believe that you have so much potential to impact and inspire others.
Don’t try to be noble and suffer alone.
Leaders who are suffering and hurting have a tendency to isolate themselves. This is inherently a male quality to begin with, so the situation only compounds the problem for you if you are a guy. Don’t try to be noble or the tough guy by trying to suffer alone. Weakness is not asking for help. Seek guidance from a counselor, minister, or trusted advisor. Share your struggles with your significant other. Join an accountability group and let them help you walk out of this time.
Isolation does little to help you climb out of your struggles. At best, it prolongs the journey to healing and recovery and but it can also lead to some serious mental and relationship setbacks. You are not meant to do life alone. You are not meant to lead alone. You are not meant to suffer alone.
Lean into your purpose in life.
Don’t give up on yourself or your leadership. You may be the only positive influence in someone else’s life. Just as no one else knows what you truly go through on a daily basis, the same applies to those around you. There is one thing that I can almost guarantee and that is that you influence more people than you think.
When you feel broken and hurt by people and situations in life remember your purpose here on earth. Seek help from others if you need assistance in finding that purpose. I tell the people that I coach that you should have three points to your purpose as a leader. You should be replicating more leaders like yourself. You should be impacting your organization and community for the better good. Finally, no matter what you work on, leave it better than you found it.
Experiencing hurt in leadership is not fun. I believe that you can make it through this challenging time. Get help, know your true value and hold true to your purpose. People are counting on you.