It’s a simple word that carries incredible power. When it occurs, you see people light up and respond in ways that they hadn’t mere moments from receiving it.
It’s something we’re hesitant to do – especially in HR. People tend to hesitate because we don’t know when you’re either doing it “enough” or “too much.”
It’s the epicenter of human interaction. It is more comfortable to tear down than to build up. It’s what people have come to expect from their supervisors, their peers and even strangers. Discouragement is the norm. Don’t believe me? Turn on the news whether it’s local, national, or a 24-hour feed. We can’t get enough of the exposure of the most tragic events and the worst in human behavior. Anything that has a positive tone to it is filler at best, and it’s rarely completely positive. That’s too risky !!
What would happen if you personally took the first step to not allow discouragement to be your filter? What would the workplace look like if people saw HR approaching and they were eager to see you because they anticipated a positive experience? What if you REFUSED to promote, spread or be connected to communication that tore others down? How would work be for you, and others, if encouragement was your benchmark and not your exception?
In the middle of both words – Encouragement and Discouragement – is the word “Courage.” When you are discouraging, it takes no effort whatsoever since people base most of their interactions on some level of discouragement. To really encourage someone takes an intentional step out to make sure it happens. It is challenging because people are skeptical. They have experienced encouragement so inconsistently and also often wrapped in some hidden agenda.
I read too many HR posts that are also discouraging in nature. In fact, I’ve had conversations that “negative things are what people want to hear” from fellow HR bloggers and practitioners. That is unfortunate and I disagree with this preconception.
I want to encourage you !!
You are in HR for a reason, so make that a reason that has an impact on people intentionally. If you are discouraged yourself, I would suggest a few things to consider:
- Connect with an Encourager !! – There are positive people in HR. I know a ton of them and I enjoy being with them and talking to them on a regular basis. They may challenge how I see things, but in the end we lift each other up.
- Practice, Practice, Practice !! – There are many ways to do this, but it won’t be easy. Start a journal and list who you’d like to encourage, why you’d like to encourage them and then note how it went when you acted on it.
- Know this matters !! – People are always looking for context and a “purpose” in what they do as a profession. Being an encourager will turn the tide of your Company’s culture and even our industry !!
- Never stop !! – There will be people who will be resistant no matter how encouraging you are. It is tempting to quit encouraging others. It is also tiring to be an encourager. However, planting positive seeds in the lives of others around you will make a difference.
There may be people who read this and want to tear it down because I’m not being a realist in what they face each day. That would be a bummer, but I would meet them and encourage them as well. There is always something that can be lifted up in another’s life. You just need to be willing to invest the time and effort in others to uncover that and bring it out.
You should know that I am unapologetic about willingly being in HR and in encouraging others. I know you can do this and I will love hearing about what happens when it becomes your norm and no longer your exception !!