Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Fourth Mindfulness Training
In the last post, Speak Truthfully, we discussed what it means to speak truthfully and what it means to not speak truthfully. In this post, we are going to examine ways to use words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope.
No one can tell you which words to use to inspire others. The words will change from situation to situation. What it takes to use words that are inspiring is an assessment of the situation. Know the goal. Know what is being aimed toward. Know the person whom you want to inspire. Find something good in what they are currently doing, even if they seem to have a host of problems that are holding them back.
A common situation where we want to inspire people is when we are teaching them something new. It could be a job, trade, sport, musical instrument, something academic or any other skill. If you find yourself in a place to share your knowledge to teach others, you are in a place where your words can inspire other people to do well, or your words could make them feel like giving up. When people begin learning a new skill, they can be pretty terrible. What can frustrate their desire to learn is when the teacher, coach, or trainer focuses on what they are doing wrong. Even if they are doing very poorly, thus needing to be corrected, how you address the poor performance will make all the difference. Words like “No!” “That is wrong,” or “You are not getting it,” serve to make people feel bad and their self-confidence can take a hit. While there are some people who can handle that kind of criticism and persevere, not everyone can let it roll off their back so easily. When we are more positive, it will help even the thick-skinned to bloom. What do we say then, when we want others to correct their performance, but we don’t want to put the emphasis on what is wrong? We focus on what they are doing that is right. Sometimes it maybe saying something like “You have a lot of energy,” or “I see you keep trying, and that is awesome.” We can accompany those kinds of statements with advice to help them move toward their end goal. We might tell them “I like your energy, let us focus that energy on this specific task in this particular way.” If someone is improving but not quite there, we can let them know “You got close that time, try doing it this way and see if that will help.” The important thing is to find what is going right for them and help them build upon that.