I had lunch with my colleague and friend, Philippa, this week. We go back a long way and have seen each other face some challenges over the years. Throughout that time, I’ve always valued her counsel and appreciated how she can usually find something to laugh at amongst all the craziness.
It was a lovely lunch but quite hurried as we both had to get back to our desks. However, in our brief time together, Philippa gave me such encouragement. I came away from that meal with renewed confidence and determination.
The word ‘encouragement’ literally means ‘to instil courage into’: the word ‘courage’ has at its centre the word for ‘heart’. So for me, that’s what it’s all about – to give people courage, to put the heart back into them, particularly on those days when we feel like the stuffing has been knocked out of us.
So what was particularly encouraging about Philippa’s comments? They weren’t fluffy, superficial ‘oh, it’ll all work out okay’ kind of comments. They were specific; they were based on her knowledge of me as an individual; they were surprising because they showed she’d noticed something I didn’t think she was particularly aware of; they were timely and they ended with a bit of a challenge.
I think those are the qualities of good feedback in the workplace or in our home lives.
Sydney Smith wrote ‘A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage’*. How can we instil courage in others? Demonstrating to your direct report that you notice specifically what he is doing; that you see how she is developing professionally; that you appreciate the effort being made, acknowledge that and can see how he might make even further progress – isn’t this is the kind of feedback that would give us courage?
Today’s pebble for you: who will you encourage this week?
I’d love to hear from you,
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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