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.
According to The Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of people. Far above the fear of death and disease comes the fear of standing in front of a crowd. I was a member of Toastmasters for a number of years. I enjoyed the applause and after effects of successful speeches, but I hated the nerves and stress that went with the delivery.
It goes without saying, great content can be ruined by poor delivery. (Okay, I said it.) It is equally true that no amount of great technique will rescue bad content. You need to develop both skill-sets to deliver strong presentations.
Here are some simple tips that can improve your delivery:
- Develop a deeper voice – Listen to a news anchor and practice speaking in the same way. A deeper voice carries more authority. Find some exercises to lower the pitch of your voice. A quick solution: take three of four deep breathes before standing to speak. It will relax your vocal cords and your voice will be deeper.
- Slow down – We tend to speak quickly when we are nervous. If you speak too quickly, people will see you as nervous and perhaps even unsure of the topic. Find a comfortable pace and practice. Be careful that you’re not too slow.
- Give your voice some life – Ben Stein gave us the definitive monotone presentation style in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. You want to avoid that example. Speak louder and softer; speak higher and lower; speed up and slow down. None of these need to be carried to extremes, but variety helps you hold the listener’s attention.
- Speak clearly, don’t mumble. When speaking in public, you need to exaggerate the way you enunciate words. What sounds clear to your ears, is muddy 30 feet into the room.
- Use appropriate volume – Match your volume to the setting. You will need less volume when speaking to a small group in a boardroom and more volume when speaking to a large group in an auditorium.
- Pronounce your words correctly – If you aren’t sure how to say a word, don’t use it. Be especially careful with proper nouns. You’ll turn off the audience quickly if you mispronounce the name of their town in your introduction.
- Use the correct words – There’s nothing that destroys your credibility as a speaker like a misused vocabulary. If you’re unsure of the meaning of a word, look it up. If you can’t look it up, leave it out.
- Look at people – I’ve seen speakers stare at their notes, at the back wall, at the floor, anywhere but at those sitting in the room. Make eye contact with your listeners. Don’t stare at one person, but let your eyes work the room. Make eye contact for one point, then move on to another person for the next point. You’ll look like you’re trying to connect with the audience.
- Gesture – with your arms, your face and perhaps your whole body. Unlock your iron grip on the lectern and move your hands and arms to emphasize what you’re saying. Let your face get into the speech: smile, frown, open your eyes wide. You’ll do a better job of communicating your passion for the topic.
- Step away from the lectern – or, if you’re well prepared and don’t need notes, get rid of it altogether. The lectern can be a large barrier between you and your audience. If you need it for your notes, step from side to side periodically. (Not so much that the listeners get sea sick.) The best presentation you can give is the one you know so well, you don’t need any props to hold you up. It’s just you and the audience.
In one sense these are all instant fixes. You could start using these techniques in a speech you have to give ten minutes from now. However, they’re not quick fixes. Any presenter gets better through practice. Make these tips part of your preparation process and people are going to want to listen to you speak.
Each year, January 28 is designated as Data Privacy Day. Don’t bother looking for Hallmark cards, it’s not that kind of day. Canada, the United States and 27 European countries, mark this occasion as a means of raising awareness and generating discussion about data privacy practices and rights.
Most people aren’t aware such a day exists. This probably speaks to the fact that too few people realize they are leaving an trail of data behind them for others to collect, merge, analyze, massage and sell, often without their knowledge or consent. Furthermore, on any given day, millions of people will send sensitive personal information over the Internet; thousands will likely be affected by a data breach, and hundreds will probably fall victim to identity theft.
To commemorate Data Privacy Day, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada offered up these 10 ways your privacy is threatened:
10. Surveillance cameras, swipe cards, Internet searches – as you go about your daily routine you actually leave a trail of data behind you for others to collect, merge, analyze and even sell, often without your knowledge or consent.
9. New and exciting technologies are emerging daily; but often your personal information is the cost of admission. Think about the information you have surrendered just to play online games, join virtual worlds, or even shop online.
8. Millions of people post all sorts of personal information about themselves, their family and their friends on social networking sites without reviewing the privacy policies, modifying the privacy settings, or considering how this information can be used or misused by others.
7. Governments are indiscriminately collecting mountains of personal data in the name of national security and public safety.
6. Businesses are collecting more and more information about an ever-greater number of people, often without having appropriate means to protect the information or dispose of it.
5. Data breaches happen every day in both the public and private sectors. Recent incidents have exposed the personal information of millions of people. In fact, you could already have been one of those people, but due to the lack of mandatory breach reporting laws in Canada, you may never even be informed.
4. Fraudsters have become extremely devious and technologically savvy. From the other side of the planet, they can steal your personal information. These days, you need to shred documents, protect your computer, watch out for fraudulent e-mails, be on guard against pretexting and much more.
3. Identity theft, which is fuelled by excessive personal information collection and failure to protect it, is rampant – and it is becoming a very lucrative business for criminals.
2. We live in a global society where information flows freely around the world – from person to person; jurisdiction to jurisdiction; public sector to private sector – and all privacy protection laws are not created equal.
1. The notion that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Privacy is an essential freedom that shapes our society; an internationally recognized human right; and the foundation of modern democracy – but if we don’t value our privacy or stand up for it as our right, it will be eroded over time.
If you want more information on protecting your privacy—at least, from a Canadian perspective—here are a handful of fact sheets in PDF format:
UPDATE: March 2020
The effects of COVID-19/coronavirus are forcing people to change the pace of their lives: self-isolation, quarantine, working from home, schools closed, and more. This is a post I wrote eight-years ago and their some good pointers as to how you can best make use of any enforced isolation.
Do you have days when you feel life is rushing by at breakneck speed? Maybe your whole life feels that way. Here are 10 ways to slow it down and help you keep things in perspective:
- Stop multi-tasking. Computers multi-task by doing several things at once When people try to multi-task, they end up doing everything poorly.
- Turn off your television. Try going for a full week without turning it on. You will discover that you suddenly have a lot more leisure time.
- Ignore the telephone. You don’t have to answer it every time it rings. If the phone interrupts you in the midst of doing something, let the answering machine pick it up. Most of the calls will be from telemarketers anyway.
- Sit. Do it for a while; a half hour. Don’t do anything else. Just relax and let your mind drift. If you start obsessing about your job or worrying about tomorrow, stop and refocus on relaxing.
- Listen to music. Don’t make music merely background noise to another task. Sit and listen to music without doing anything else.
- Keep a journal. Take a few minutes each day to write your thoughts. Describe something that happened to you that day. You will develop a better understanding of yourself.
- Take up a hobby. Do you like to paint, take photographs, restore cars? Why not do it now Lose yourself in your passion.
- Have some quality recreation time: with your kids, your partner, a friend or your dog. Whether playing tag in the yard, going for a walk or even video games with your children, have some fun.
- Have a conversation. Head out to the coffee shop with a friend Take the time to really listen to someone else, to hear their thoughts and share yours.
- Live life. Pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t gobble down your meal as you rush to your next commitment. Take time to savour and enjoy. As you drive from one appointment to the next, enjoy the view—even in an industrial park. Look for things you’ve never noticed before. Get the most out of everything you do.
Everybody loves it when the underdog wins. The theme crops up regularly in movies: whether The Absent Minded Professor or the latest version of The Bad News Bears, something feels right about a group of misfits pulling it together for an eleventh-hour victory over the perennial champs.
We love these stories because they make us believe we have potential to be winners, regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment. The fact that underdog stories are not reserved for fiction, but play out in real life, heightens our perception that we could become winners, if we just knew how.
Image via Wikipedia
Motivation is often the only difference between winners and losers. You see two equal teams competing, playing with similar skills, and having breaks and mistakes on both sides. Yet one team wins. What is the difference? Motivation!
If you want the edge that makes a difference in your personal success, you’ve got to use motivation to get the most out of your skills. Here are some practical tips to maximize your motivation:
- Know what you want – If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never get there. The person who complains about lack of success, or more frequently, the “unnatural” success of others, is often sitting around, waiting for something to fall in their lap. Winners know what they want to achieve and set the steps to get them there.
- Record your progress – Don’t scrub your to-do list every time you mark a task completed. Use those check marks to remind you of the progress you have made. In turn, the record can push you forward to new accomplishments.
- Use rewards – There’s nothing quite like recognition to bolster your self confidence and motivate you to continued success. When you receive recognition, or are rewarded by others, hang on to those as reminders of things you have done well. If your current project doesn’t come with external rewards, create some for yourself. Use rewards to mark milestones and motivate you into the next phase.
- Challenge yourself – Don’t be content to merely repeat last year’s success. Athletes don’t limit themselves to winning championships, but are constantly looking for ways improve their personal best. Whether it’s adding to current skills or completely re-inventing yourself, personal challenges can motivate you.
- Think positively – The power of positive thinking may seem like a cliche, but it works. William Hazlitt said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Negative self-talk is going to get in the way of your success. Surround yourself with the things that will help you think positively.
- Remember the why – Remind yourself of the reason for your current undertaking. Why are you trying to be successful in the endeavour: to bring financial security, to create a good life for your family, to help someone in need, to see your name in lights or engraved on a trophy? All these are valid drivers and revisiting them from time to time will motivate you to go forward.
Bill McCartney, a former head coach at the University of Colorado said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself”. The greatest coaches don’t necessarily have all the greatest athletes, but they know how to get the best out of the team. The greatest personal successes don’t come from people who have all the talent, but from those who know how to maximize their talent through motivation.
- M for Motivation (reflectionscoachingblog.wordpress.com)
- Motivation, THE Heart of Self Improvement (socyberty.com)
- A – Z Motivation (jennyjain.wordpress.com)