A teacher asked her students if any of them had extra pencils they’d be willing to share with their classmates. One student reluctantly raised his hand.
The teacher approached his desk and before the student handed her his pencil case, he told her that he didn’t mind sharing his pencils but he wanted them back when they were not being used.
The teacher agreed to return them at the end of the day but was wondering why this student was making such a big deal about the pencils. When she opened his pencil case everything became clear.
Each pencil was adorned with a few words of encouragement in what looked like red nail polish. The teacher realized how special these pencils were to the boy as she read the note on each one – You are smart. I love you. You can do great things. I am proud of you. You’re the best. I believe in you.
This story, adapted from the SunnySkyz website, demonstrates the power of encouragement. A person may not be as good as you tell her she is, but she’ll try harder thereafter.
Encouragement is defined as something that makes someone feel more supported; something that makes someone more determined, hopeful or confident; and something that makes someone more likely to do something.
One of my favorite quotes on encouragement is from the dean of influencing people, Dale Carnegie: “Tell a child, a husband, or an employee that he is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, that he has no gift for it, and that he is doing it all wrong and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique; be liberal with encouragement; make the thing seem easy to do; let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it; that he has an undeveloped flair for it – and he will practice until the dawn comes in at the window in order to excel.”
There are plenty of easy ways to make people feel special, such as a simple smile, taking them out for a meal, listening, doing a favor, giving a recommendation or compliment, or sending a hand-written note or card telling them how much you appreciate them.
Maya Angelou, the American poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist, said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Encouragement is an especially valuable tool for managing employees. I can tell you from decades of business experience, it is critically important to emphasize positive achievements in performance reviews, and offer constructive advice for improving areas that need building up. Make employees feel like they can reach their potential.
What do your employees really want? A manager who cares will remember these basic elements:
As humorist Robert Henry said: “People do not live by bread alone. They need buttering up once in a while.”
Mackay’s Moral: Compliments are like potato chips. Once you’ve had one you look for more.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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