“Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of encouragement—and we will make the goal.”
–Robert Collier

I ask you, what are your words doing? Is your tongue building people up or tearing them down? Are you planting the seeds of success or failure? Are you pouring courage into those around you, encouraging them, giving them the power to think, speak, try, and do things without fear? Are you letting them confidently take the last shot with the game’s outcome hanging on the result? Or are you draining courage from people, discouraging them, paralyzing them to not think, speak, try, and do things because you’re sure they’ll fail you?

The easiest way to start encouraging people is with the first component: praise and compliments. A simple “Good job!” has immediate positive impact. This sounds like basic advice, but it’s so rare today. My wife can be fueled for days by a random compliment, perhaps a stranger in a grocery store telling her she’s doing a great job with the kids.

Encouraging language can resonate for a long time. One of my employees told me that my partner at the pharmacy, Natasha, said I was doing a good job keeping all our medicines in stock. Even three years later, I can still hear those words resonate as I tediously fill out medication order forms. It makes me feel that my work is appreciated, and as a result, I try harder to keep the medicines in stock.

Build others up with praise and compliments, not cheap flattery. The difference is sincerity. Cheap flattery is insincere while praise and compliments are sincere and from the heart. I once worked with a woman who told me, “Hey, nice belt!” I liked that until I heard her giving everyone the same compliment. It quickly lost its effect; I considered it insincere and started wondering if the woman simply had a belt fetish. Most people can tell if someone is giving a sincere compliment. I guess the woman had noticed how compliments could have a positive impact, but she took it too far. Be sure your compliments come from your heart, not your “Nice belt!” machine gun.