Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix “en” which means “to put into” and the Latin word “cor” which means heart. Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others “to take heart” when things get tough or you want to acknowledge a job well-done?
The following tips were handed out at a meeting I attended. The sheet had no attribution , but I believe they came from this post by Dave Cheong.
- Take an interest. I believe this is one of the most effective ways of encouraging others. Show that you’re interested in what they’re doing. Get them talking. People like to talk about themselves and once you get them talking, you fire up their enthusiasm.
- Acknowledge what’s important. When you acknowledge what’s important to another, you provide validation about who they are and what they’re doing. Whether we admit it or not, each of us craves acknowledgement. Affirmation fuels confidence and self-esteem.
- Acknowledge a job well done. Worthwhile accomplishments take time and effort. You can encourage by acknowledging someone’s effort. A simple “well done” or “thank you” can have a strong effect, which can make the difference between going on or giving up.
- Show your appreciation. It’s common courtesy. Thank someone when they do something for you. Thank your partner after they cook a nice meal. Thank a friend for lending you a book. A simple thank you lets others know what they have done is meaningful to you.
- Return the favour. If someone does something nice for you, show your appreciation by returning the favour. This should not be seen as an obligation, nor as a contest. You’re not trying to top the other’s contribution, but to express what their actions mean to you.
- Do something unexpected. This is a step beyond returning the favour. Respond with something unexpected: out of the blue. Such a response has a strong impact and can reach others at an emotional level.
- Ask for advice or confide in them. Haven’t you felt important when someone asked for your advice or confided in you about something important? Didn’t you find you were energised and eager to help. Taking someone into your confidence can motivate them to show your faith in them is well founded.
- Lend a hand. Waiting for someone to ask you for advice is passive. You can take the initiative by offering to lend a hand. If a person sees you are willing to commit your time and energy to their interests, they will be more committed to seeing it through and less likely to give up.
One approach to ensure effective decision making in small, informal meetings is to develop motions and decisions through consensus. Consensus occurs when there is general agreement by the group on the decision being made.
Well managed meetings allow all participants to be part of the decision making process. Here are some techniques a chairperson can use to encourage and support group participation and discussion:
The chair solicits views
The meeting chair suggests that comments are welcome from the group and, if necessary, asks specific participants to share their views. Participants hear a number of short opinions rather than listening to one or two long speeches.
After a short discussion, the chair asks for a show of hands to determine support for proposed idea(s). This should help the chair determine how to proceed. This encourages participants to express an opinion.
Groups can be very useful in the decision making process at meetings and for generating new ideas from participants. The meeting divides into smaller groups, i.e. four to eight people, for a fixed time to discuss assigned issues. A person is chosen to record the conclusions of the group. The groups then report their ideas to the larger meeting. The alternatives that are generated will assist the meeting in resolving issues and making decisions acceptable to all.
This is a procedure for generating many spontaneous and diverse ideas which can help to develop alternatives that will assist in resolving the issue being discussed and in coming to a decision. Guidelines for brainstorming are:
- don’t criticize the ideas of others while brainstorming;
- impractical suggestions may trigger practical ideas among other participants;
- the more ideas, the greater the chance of developing a very good idea;
- build on the ideas of others, improve on a previous idea or combine several ideas into one;
- choose one person to record all ideas on a flipchart so that everyone can see them and a record exists; and
- after a brainstorming session, critically screen the list of ideas for four or five consistent items or themes. Also, if brainstorming has been done in smaller groups, identify similar issues from the lists of individual groups. Finally, develop this short list of ideas into options for decisions.
Conflict arises in meetings. You might assume conflict is negative, but it can be helpful leading to innovation, positive change or agreement when discussing an issue. It is important to remember that disagreement is necessary to the process of group decision making. The chairperson may have to resolve conflict in a meeting in order to reach an acceptable decision.
The following are steps that are useful in resolving conflict:
- Recognize that there is conflict and identify the issue causing the disagreement.
- Collect all information relating to the conflict, share it and assess it.
- Propose possible solutions, including the consequences of the proposals.
- Find a mutually acceptable resolution without coercion.
- Carry out the agreement and evaluate its effectiveness, with all parties sharing in the evaluation.
If a meeting does get out of hand, take a short break. When the meeting reconvenes, the chair can summarize the discussion up to the point of conflict or have opposing sides summarize their respective positions. The chairperson can then attempt to lead the two opposing sides in negotiating a solution.