The Importance Of A Word Of Encouragement
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” ― Dolly Parton
We often live in a world filled with messages of differing value and intent. Certainly, the public media stream provides a lot of inputs on what is going wrong, but where do we go to find what is going right? What I am talking about is that volunteer helping at a soup kitchen, that family member assisting an older relative, that neighbor who is always thoughtful, that family who always helps others in need. The list could go on and on. Goodwill is often visible when we least expect it.
But what about us? The ‘good will’ we can provide for others is focused on both our deeds and our words. It’s important to focus on deeds and it is often the most visible – it’s what we do – but for a moment, let me make the case why our words are initially so much more important. What do our words towards look like each day? What do we say? What do we not say? Who do we talk to? Who do we not talk to? What are we thinking about when we talk to others?
These are all important questions, and the answers are internal to each one of us. But here is a truth that unites these ideas: Our positive words towards others take effort on our part and set us apart from others when we consistently use our words to build others up.
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The Role of Positive Words
Building others up. What does that mean? One word for building others up is to edify. Edify means, to Enlighten, to Inform, to Educate, to Instruct, and to Improve. Let’s focus on these ideas for a bit and remember that the initial action of edifying may be through our words because we never know when our positive words towards others might open up an unexpected door of opportunity to serve in a greater way.
I know that someone is thinking, “But no, our actions are so much more important than our words.” And this person is right too. Our actions are of critical importance in all of our relationships, both with strangers, acquainted, associates, friends, partners, and family. But I want to focus here on the words that we say even when we are acting – or not acting – towards others in ways that help them. Our words can form the first way of connecting with individuals at times. And our words can also make a lasting impression.
Words and actions work hand in hand – pardon the pun – but once again, let’s focus on how our words can literally build others up.
Areas of Encouragement
As I said, building others up means to Enlighten, to Inform, to Educate, to Instruct, and to Improve. Here is a thought on each of these areas:
Enlighten – This is when our words help explain a mystery to someone or provide guidance on something they do not understand. It means that we need to be sharp in the area, or areas, where we provide enlightenment.
Inform – This is where our words introduce a new idea to someone else. It could even be a positive insight about the person or a word of gratitude for something they say, do, or are good at.
Educate – Similar to enlighten, this is to explain something of deeper importance. To educate lifts the burden of ‘not knowing’ from someone and gives them an insight they can remember.
Instruct – Similar to educate, this is the process of teaching with authority or with insider knowledge. In general, we can explain things about many topics, but to instruct others means we know deeply about the area where we are instructing the other person. This builds their skill set too.
Improve – When we consider the whole work of building others up, it means that we want them to improve. We also will likely improve ourselves too in the process.
Effects of Encouragement
Now, why do we want to make a habit or even a lifestyle of helping to build others up so that they can be enlightened, informed, educated, instructed, and improved? That is a super-tall order to fill and we may not feel like we are up to the task with everyone we know. After all, many people are smarter than we are. So, what do we do? Take a piece of wisdom from the two feet that are most likely visible as you are reading this. Or if your feet are not that which helps you move around, think of what does help you – whether it is an assistive device or someone close to you. Nevertheless, think of how important it is to ‘take a step forward.’
With each step we take in building others up, we lighten their load in life. We recognize positives in them. We affirm the greatness that is in them so that they can be better people, better associates, better partners, and better family members. We all can improve. Not a single person can avoid it except by having a closed heart towards growth and having what Carol Dweck rightly calls a “growth mindset”.
So now, when you consider your words to your acquaintances, associates, friends, family members, or even the person sitting next to you on the bus or in the hotel or at the school or at the store, say something positive to them. Then, watch their demeanor brighten, their smile increase and their attitude reflect the same gratitude which you are relying on to say positive words. Indeed, it is hard to say something positive to someone you do not know, but the truth is that it is often easier – and more beneficial – to say a thankful thought than it is to say a cutting or complaining thought.
In closing, let’s think for a second about what we are thankful for. It could be a list of small things or a few big things or many things in between. But when we think a thought of gratitude, we are taking a step towards building ourselves up too. And that’s the overall goal that helps us build others up even more, as well. After all, that word of encouragement that we think about and then say to others – or even reflect on ourselves – just might be a hope-lifter that brightens everyone’s day as a result.
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