Updated: Mar 2, 2019
One of my best friends, Honey (yes that's her government name... and it's FIRE), is an amazing professor. She's incredibly intelligent and caring woman (among many other top-tier qualities) who knows her way around the classroom.
But knowing her way around a classroom doesn't make her a good teacher -- it's her natural ability to make all students feel welcomed and comfortable.
Her formula to making students feel loved and accepted is really simple, but probably the most important thing she could ever teach. She demonstrates how to love and how to encourage (talk about having a greatHER purpose).
She asks how they're doing.
She listens (and hears) their stories.
She encourages them to encourage others.
She teaches the students how to be accountable for one another.
She encourages positive feedback.
She is firm, but gentle in correction.
I really could go on and on (#proudbestfriend).
Her story is important because this is who she is in and out of the classroom. And to put it simply, encouragement is necessary. One of my core values is encouragement - so for me, building others up in a non-negotiable in life. However, I think this is one of the most important components to any healthy relationship.
But why is encouragement so important? And why is it necessary for healthy relationships?
Encouragement builds grit.
When we think about it, realistic and truthful encouragement instills a sense of grit in people. Often times, we associate resilience with failure - and don't get it twisted, failure is a great teacher.
BUT - encouragement can teach grit, too. Think about a time where someone encouraged you to keep going or keep pushing. How did that feel? Did those words stick in your brain for future reference?
Encouraging words can help restructure your inner voice, especially if they are from someone who you consider to be in your top 5 - this will not only help your relationship with yourself, but will also inadvertently help you shift your interactions with others.
Encouragement creates trust.
My friend, Honey, knows how to create trust with her students and with everyone in her life. Why? Because she's naturally positive and encouraging.
Encouragement forges trust in relationships because it helps you feel accepted. I feel accepted and loved by Honey because I know that regardless of the circumstance (and whether she agrees or not), she's going to encourage me to make my own decision.
That helps me trust her because her intention is clear: I'm here for you regardless of your decision because we're friends and I love and accept you. That level of trust is incredibly necessary for any healthy relationship... and it all starts with a little encouragement.
Encouragement creates a safe environment for vulnerability.
Have you ever shared something near and dear to your heart with someone? Then, in return, instead of positive reinforcement, they shredded you?
I have been both the giver and the recipient of the criticism before -- EVEN AFTER someone opens up to me...and let me tell you, I felt judgmental, harsh, and just plain mean. In those moments, I annoyed myself and I'm sure everyone involved (#forgiveme).
Being critical of others is not the tea. In fact, what I've learned in life, is that if you're more critical than encouraging, people won't share information with you because they won't feel safe. I've had to learn that for myself the hard way and am super grateful for my friends who've helped me become less critical.
If you give authentic encouragement to others on a consistent basis, people will feel more comfortable and safe around you. This feeling of safety is necessary for any healthy relationship because it is the key to vulnerability. Without vulnerability, there is no connection. See where I'm headed with this?
Here are some EASY and FREE (#WeNeedThat) ways to encourage other women today.
Send a text with encouraging words that's specific to a person.
If you see someone making positive changes, or working hard, affirm them.
Write hand-written thank you notes.
Send an encouraging e-card.
Take time to listen to someone's day.
Keep your phone in your purse or pocket at dinner with your friends.
Keep your phone in your purse or pocket when someone's talking.
Take a picture holding a sign, "I love you!" and send it to people who need to hear it.
Compliment three people on social media (maybe someone who you don't always speak to).
Donate your clothes, or give them to a friend who may want to look through them.
Pray for someone.
Love y'all. Thanks for reading and thanks for being YOU.
LOVE YOU THE MOST,