How would you handle it if your best friend was going through a difficult time in his life and he came to you for help? How can you provide the best words of encouragement to help him? Many people will find it hard to believe that the first and best way to help a friend is to practice what I call active listening.
You may accomplish this by listening carefully without interrupting your friend, and at the proper pause points, check for understanding by feeding back the pertinent information in the form of a question. This approach will confirm your understanding of his situation.
The other added value perspective you may use to offer words of encouragement for a friend is by helping him “get” himself first before he seeks to get others! This is especially important during problem solving actions. The simple truth rests in the reality of knowing we all have strengths and limitations that are driven by our core motives and these core motives offer us a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.
As an example, one common strength of a White is being a good listener without rushing into the conversation with your opinion. However, if you’re not a White and are trying to acquire this gift, try to listen longer and check for understanding by paraphrasing what others have said to you first.
If they respond by saying, “yes, that is exactly what I said” and continues his dialogue from there, you will have provided the very best words of encouragement by simply acknowledging your understanding of his feelings. You will have advanced one more level in developing a positive character.
Finally, this allows him to hear his own thoughts played back to him and correct any misconceptions on either side of the conversation. It also acts as a point of reconfirmation when the communication has been relayed and accepted in the vein it was intended.
The alternative perspective could also be that when you use the powerful tool of checking for understanding and doing what I call ‘playing back the tape’ your friend may respond with, “that’s not at all what I said.” This could signal one of those times when we hear something different than what was intended or, the speaker said something that he didn’t really mean and it’s time to clear up the communication glitch. Here lies the importance of not only meaning what you say, but to saying what you mean. You simply ask your friend to please do you the favor of repeating the message. After he repeats the message, take the appropriate pause and ‘play back the tape again’ by saying, “so what I heard you say was…”
Upon confirmation, you will have completed the communication circle and established what I call a good volley in the conversation. Following this advice will afford you the choice of building great relationship, much like the Blue people of the world are so naturally gifted at doing. A Red personality type may never come to the conclusion that repeating something for clarity would be necessary since they are direct and state the facts as they see them.
By creating a continually flowing circle of conversation while establishing a good volley, sending and receiving messages in a conversation, it sets up the opportunity of helping a friend by offering words of encouragement. The largest point to take here is that you can’t offer words of encouragement to help a friend if you don’t fully understand the nature of their problem.
Once you have established a good flow in the conversation, you can offer words of encouragement. Rather than telling a friend what to do, even if he is asking you to tell him what to do, I have always found that it works best to ask enough questions so that he basically answers his own question and determines the best course of action.
Most people know what they need to do in order to help themselves while navigating through the mind fields of life, but their emotions or hurried pace of life can occasionally block their sense of knowing. I find that removing some of life’s burdens or blocks from a friend’s path will help him see the light more clearly and they can form his own solutions. Also, I believe that people feel better about discovering their own answers rather than having someone else telling them what to do.
However, there is the odd time, depending on the situation, where a friend may be so overburdened by life’s many challenges that he truly doesn’t have a clue as to what his next step should be. In this case, it may be prudent to offer words of encouragement. These words often times do far more than you think and create a high level of intimacy!
Offering encouragement is a nice thing to do for others and it is typical of Blue personality types. They thrive on intimacy and go to extreme measures to spark others’ desires to know them. An added benefit that Blue personality types have is that in offering words of encouragement they are squarely acknowledging others through great listening and validation skills.
The benefit is that people want to know more about you because you have first shown interest in getting to know them. Yellow personality types are motivated by fun and it is fun to receive good feedback and energy from those who have received truthful and kind words of encouragement from you first. This theory plays out well for those of us who are motivated by a Yellow personality type as it allows our extremely sociable style to kick right into gear!
Get yourself first, then get over yourself before you start to get others. The best words of encouragement start and end with the truth! Speak the truth as you can most fairly portray and share, while offering solution-based thinking with a mind toward obtaining the best results to minimize their problem. At the end of the day…it’s all about how you leave them feeling!
Jesse is a “Blue” and a Professional Speaker, Corporate & Life Coach; Author & Artist He has authored the books How You Leave Them Feeling & How You Leave Them Feeling Live (Apple interactive live version). He has also co-authored the book Life Choices.
Connect with Jesse on www.jesstalk.com Twitter – Jesse Ferrell@jesstalk, Facebook