It is one of the necessary ingredients for growth and success in life. Do we use it appropriately in our every day practice? Plants need sun, water and soil to grow. Human beings need encouragement for self-worth and self- confidence. Encouragement assists in developing a sense of belongingness. The fundamental inner motivation of human is to belong and contribute usefully. (Ferguson1995).

What are the prerequisites for encouragement?

  • To sincerely believe in an individuals abilities
  • To recognize an individuals skills and assets
  • To pay attention to positive qualities of individuals, rather than negative.

The major challenge to using encouragement is to be non-evaluative. The art of encouragement is innate in some and it can be a honed skill for others. It focuses on recognizing the efforts and not outcome.

People tend to mistake praise with encouragement. These are terms, which has two different objectives and meanings. "Praise" is reserved for things well done. It implies a spirit of competition. It focuses on external control where the individual tend to hear or perceive that "I am worthwhile only when I do what others want". Ultimately they learn to measure their self-worth by ability to conform or rebel (when the individual perceives any form of cooperation as giving in). Praise can lead to over confidence where there is self-elevation. It can generate unrealistic expectations of self and ultimately extending the unrealistic expectations on to others. Individuals who grow up with high expectations learn to dread failure and feel worthwhile only when "on top". It leads to mental imbalance.

Encouragement on other hand focuses on the ability to manage life constructively. It implies a spirit of cooperation that is derived out of being responsible and independent. Intrinsic and extrinsic encouragement builds motivation and self-esteem. It helps the individuals to develop the courage "to be imperfect". This courage fosters realistic expectations of self and others. With this mindset, individuals are able to handle failure as a learning experience and not give up hope or self-worth.

Encouragement is the process of  Facilitating the development of individual's Inner resources and courage toward Positive movement

By - Don Dinkmeyer

Untangled/Edex Section/The news Indian express, Chennai edition