Throughout the month of October, I have been devoting the Serene Sundays to encouragement. The previous posts have dealt with why you should encourage and who you should encourage. This week's article is about how to encourage. Next week, the final article in the series will deal with when to encourage.
Encouragement can be either written or oral in format. In other words you can say your words of encouragement in person or by telephone call. Or, you can send your words of encouragement in a letter, an email or through a social media format. Rest assured that all these methods are equally valid and if the encouragement is sincere.
You can use your words to encourage. The following are a few situations that come up often when encouragement is needed.
1. Best case worst case
Whenever I encounter a friend who is feeling scared or nervous about something, I take her through the best case worst case scenario. I ask her, what is the best thing that could happen if her situation worked out in her favor. I then ask her what is the worst case scenario. Once she has identified the best and worse that can happen to her, she has faced her fears and is ready to admit that since she can handle both the best case and worse case scenarios is ready to go for it, encouragement accomplished.
2. The Suck it Up Sandwich
Sometimes, a gentle, persuasive whisper is not sufficient because the person needing encouragement is hard headed or refuses to listen to soft talk. Those situations call for a hard talking to and a wardrobe change. If you have a person who refuses to succumb to your gentle encouraging words, it is time to tell her to "suck it up, put on her big girl panties, her fake it until you make it dress and get moving." In other words, encourage by being forceful. Tell your friend that she can do this, you don't wan to hear her words to the contrary and that she had better get going now.
On occasion, encouraging someone means being a cheerleader. When your friend encounters a hard situation or is a little down in the dumps all she needs is someone to cheer for her. In that situation, just tell your friend, that she can do it. Tell her specifically, "Girl, you can do this. You have done harder things. You are amazing, you are wonderful, you can do this." Let her know that you admire her that she is brave, strong, smart, wonderful and that she has this.
4. Yeah, life sucks but. . .
There are times when everything has gone wrong and your friend wants to give up all hope. At those times, she needs you to prop her back up and find a reason to keep going. So you have to tell her, "You know what, sometimes life sucks, things go horribly wrong, but you still have to keep moving." Let your friend know that you understand she feels horrible. Tell her that anyone would feel like dirt under the circumstances. At the same time, let her know that even though life sucks right now, it did not always suck and it will not always suck in the future. This is another situation for a wardrobe change, tell her to "suck it up, put on her big girl panties, her fake it until you make it dress and get moving." She has to put on her happy face and act like things are going well until they start going well again.
5. We are in it together Once in awhile your friend feels as if she is all alone and that no one has her back. At those times, she needs to know that she is not in it alone, you have her back. The easiest way to let her know she is not in it alone and that you with her is to specifically tell her, "I've got you. You are not in this alone. Be encouraged, we can get through this."
In all these situations, your friend who is in need of encouragement knows that she needs encouragement. She knows that you are there to encourage her. So, do your job, be what she needs you to be.
Surprise flower deliveries can be used to encourage.
A few months ago I was unhappy with how business was going with a partner. I was ready to call it a day and leave the relationship altogether. I was extremely unhappy. I had actually cried and yelled and stopped just short of calling names. A few days later, I opened my front door and saw a big brown box. When I opened it, it was a beautiful delivery of flowers in a spectacular vase. My business associate/friend had the flowers sent to me with a note to encourage me, to cheer me up and to get me to continue in the business relationship. It worked.
Greeting cards can be used to encourage.
Everyone likes to receive a card in the mail. It doesn't matter if it is a silly card or a deep, meaningful card that makes the recipient cry tears of joy. I keep a few encouraging cards in my purse most of the time so that I can send off a message on the spot if need be.
Music can also be used to encourage.
You have heard the expression, "Music has power to soothe the savage breast." Well, music can also be used to encourage, to pump someone up and get them back into the swing of things. Here are a few of the songs on my personal playlist to put steel in my back and make me feel like I can do it.Struggle
by Tye Tribbett & G.A.A God Like You
by Kirk FranklinBeliever
by Mary MaryJust the Way You Are
by Bruno MarsWork That
Mary J. BligeHard Streets
You have to know your audience in order to pick just the right music. I like gospel music and find most of my motivation there. If your friend is a country music fanatic or a rocker, get music for her there. You can send your friend the song via email, a Facebook status update. One of my new favorite tricks is to leave a voice mail when I know my friend will not answer her phone. I tell her, "I am leaving this message to encourage you" and I let the song play into her voice mail.
I have one last tip on how to encourage if the person needing encouragement is you. This is one I got from my teenie bopper. She said that you should set your ring tone and alarm tone on your phone to a song that encourages you that way with every phone call or alarm that goes off, you get a boost of encouragement. I will admit now, but perhaps not later, that there have been occasions where I have had the alarm on my Kindle Fire to go off once an hour playing Mary J. Blige's Work That.
This article has shown that we can encourage with our words, flowers, greeting cards, music and even cell phone alarms. So, the question for you this Serene Sunday is what is your secret way to encourage people?