Encouragement and appreciation go hand in hand and are essential communication skills, especially in the current hybrid or virtual working world. It can be easy to fail to remember that the best forms of communication are non-verbal.
That said, don’t disregard the importance of “thank you” or “great job.” While seemingly simple, these are valid and meaningful messages. Evidence supports the use of gracious language in building healthy relationships and work environments. One of the sincerest ways to show appreciation is to share positive words about that person with others. Telling the rest of the team something positive about someone’s efforts will be interpreted as more sincere than simply telling that person directly. You put yourself on the line by publicly declaring it.
But even in the virtual workspace, encouragement goes beyond just words. What you do has even more power than what you say.
In our busy lives, it is easy to shortchange others we work with or love in terms of our focused and individual attention. Carving out time just for them demonstrates your appreciation. I remember as a young parent being warned off deluding myself that I could engineer “quality time” with my children. Quality time is a valuable concept but is the byproduct of just regularly being there. Anyone that has mentored a colleague at work knows that the best teachable moments occur spontaneously.
You wouldn’t watch a loved one struggling to dig a hole when there is another shovel nearby. All the verbal encouragement in the world would not be nearly as motivating as if you picked up that extra shovel and dug in, too! People I have supported or coached through the years regularly surprise me with stories they recall of me pitching in with them. Often I am humbled by how little I recall of the incident and how the caring action loomed so large in their memory.
Showing is better than telling. Demonstrate your care, concern, and encouragement through everyday acts. These acts can be personal as well as professional. Send a link to an article that focuses on some aspect of their interest and prove you listen and value them. If you are running for a coffee, can you bring back a favorite for them? Like grains of sand or drops of water, these gestures don’t seem like much individually, but over time they add up.
Everyone likes to be appreciated in the way they like best. We work hard to analyze audiences for communication strategy every time we prepare. Don’t let familiarity become a blockage to respecting individuality or allow you to fall into a one-size-fits-all rut. While these suggestions work well, consider the situation and the person carefully as you plan your encouragement. You can impact the person that others become with your reinforcement.