Showing posts with label Empathy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Empathy. Show all posts

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Giving Support - The Fourth Step of Encouragement

In earlier posts, I detailed the first three steps of encouragement: LISTENING, AFFIRMING and  OFFERING PERSPECTIVE. There’s a final element that you’ll want to include as you wrap up the conversation: SUPPORT.

When a person is discouraged, she often feels alone. The perception is that she’s got to handle the situation by herself.

If you’ve completed the first three steps well, you’ve helped her get a balanced view of herself and the current challenge. In the final step you remind her that she doesn’t have to go it alone.

You were there for her before this setback, and you haven’t withdrawn your support. You let her know that you still believe in her and care about her well-being and success.

You could say, “Let me know if I can help. I’m here for you.”

That reassurance gives the person permission to come back to you if she continues to experience difficulties or additional setbacks. It’s a huge relief to know she’s got someone in her corner.

It’s also a good idea to ask, “What do you need from me now? What would support look like?”

These questions prevent you from making assumptions about the type of support that would be most helpful to this particular individual. Letting her tell you requires her to think about – and then articulate – what would be helpful to her going forward.

If you follow these four steps when someone needs encouragement, you’ll be in a position to give them a gift that lasts a lifetime. You’ll convey that you genuinely care and understand. And the desire to be understood is one of the core needs of every human being.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia, American author 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Listening: The First Step of Encouragement

When you see that someone is discouraged or upset, you may be tempted to dispense advice or try to solve their problem. Neither of these responses is helpful to the other person and could actually result in a negative reaction. Instead, if you really want to be an encourager to someone you care about, start with listening.

The goal of listening is to convince the discouraged individual that you understand his situation and how he feels about it. This is important, because if he doesn’t believe this, he won’t accept your encouragement.

Focus your full, undivided attention on the other person. Make him feel that he’s the only person in your world at that moment. This means steady eye contact and no distractions.

Invite him to open up. If he wants to vent his frustrations, let him. Pay attention to his tone of voice and body language. This will tell you more about the level of discouragement than the words themselves. Even though you may sense that he’s over-reacting, you must NOT say so. Just let him express his feelings about the situation – without criticism or judgment. Otherwise, he will shut down. Open the conversation with something like:
“You don’t seem like yourself today. Want to talk about it?”
As you hear what he’s trying to say, check to be sure you understand. Say back what you believe he meant.
“So you’ve been working on this steady for five weeks and now you feel that all this work may have been for nothing.”
And don’t deny the reality of the situation. If you say something shallow like, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “It’s no big deal,” you’ll lose credibility.
“You sound pretty upset. I know you feel bad about what happened, and you wish you didn’t have to deal with this on top of everything else. And for the moment you’re not sure what to do about it.”
You’ll be amazed at how people will open up to you when they sense that you’re genuinely interested in how they’re doing and you demonstrate empathy with their situation.