There's a simple truth that may seem obvious but is easy to forget: be aware of how others interpret what you are saying. Even positive feedback delivered in the wrong way can be like a pin pricking the skin of a balloon-instant and dramatic deflation. Be Inspiring.
Sometimes when we mean to give a compliment the way we do it, either in delivery or what we say, actually cuts someone down. Saying, for instance, to someone learning a new skill, "Wow, I never thought you would get this far!" may seem like a pat on the back, but what you're really saying to that person is that you couldn't believe how lacking in skills they were when they started. That won't make anyone feel good about themselves. It would have been better to confirm the positive with a statement like: "I'd like to compliment you on your progress!"
It takes five positive interactions to dilute one negative interaction in a relationship, if we want that relationship to grow. This is true in both professional and personal relationships. Fewer than five positive interactions to one negative interaction leads to disengagement, differing agendas and sometimes the end of the relationship. Think of developing your relationships this way: what can you do to make positive deposits into the emotional bank accounts you have with the key people in your life?
For one, you can point out what someone did well-that is affirming. As Charles Schwab said, people do better under a "spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism." The thing that's important to understand when coaching is that a person whose fear of failure outweighs their desire to succeed will feel stifled. If you want to develop star performers, make it a habit to affirm even the smallest moves in the right direction, especially when you see employees taking steps to move out of fear and improve their performance.
When you see signs that things are moving in the right direction, encourage your employee's learning. If you want your team members to continually strive to improve, they have to feel they can share their mistakes with you and together, you will figure out how to turn them into positive experiences. That is being inspiring.
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