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  • Writer's pictureBob Prentice


Taking the time and energy to give honest and sincere appreciation is a vital thing for us to do, though we do not always take the time or the effort to do so. Because many of us do not get much encouragement ourselves, we may find it difficult to encourage others. I know that has been true for me at various times. One thing I have discovered when I am feeling a bit discouraged is that when I look around me, I find others who also need a bit of encouragement. That’s when I set to work to figure out a way that I can encourage someone. This is an excellent time for me to practice the skill of giving honest and sincere appreciation to another by paying them a compliment. In fact, as I have learned to do this, it has become second nature to me to compliment others. I generally go about paying a sincere compliment by using a system I call the “5 E’s” of Encouragement.”

Examine. I make it a daily habit to watch for what others around me are doing right and well. I take the time to look deep into the character of the people I am observing. I also listen to the good that others are saying about them, all the while looking for just the right opportunity to go to the next step, which is to... Expose to someone what I have discovered. My desire is to bring something out into the open that will encourage and make that person feel more appreciated. However, it isn’t enough to just say it. I always try to convey what I have to say with... Emotion. Tell how what I have observed in them makes me feel. I use words like happy, joy, appreciative, proud, delighted, inspired, confident, etc. to let the other person see and feel my sincerity. But I don’t stop there, but go on to the fourth step...

Expectation. This is when I share with them what the benefits will be if they keep up the behavior. At the same time as I am speaking, I do something that will...

Endear them in a way that causes them to feel respected, encouraged, and appreciated. I always look the person directly in the eye, maintaining eye contact the entire time I am speaking to them. I smile, too. Depending on who you are complimenting, it may be a pat on the back, a touch on the arm, or a tousling of the hair (such as in the case of a young child) may also be appropriate. To illustrate my point, let me tell you a story. I was in a Denver hotel, preparing for a meeting I was scheduled to do that morning. I was finishing my preparations when the maid knocked at the door. When she saw that I was there, she offered to come back, but since I was ready to leave, I told her she could come in to clean the room. The maid went straight to work on making the bed, humming quietly. She tucked, patted, and fluffed until the bed was perfectly made, all in no more than a minute. I was very impressed by her efficiency and her excellence–not to mention her cheerful attitude–in making that bed! That woman really knew how to make a bed, and I thought to tell her so. “I’ve been watching you make that bed, and I just have been mesmerized by your skill in doing your job,” I said. She looked up and smiled as I went on to say, “If you do all your work with such care and efficiency, you will always be successful, I am sure.” The woman stood a little taller as she replied,” Mister, I’ve worked here for 20 years, and nobody has ever said that to me before.” I walked out of that room, feeling pretty good about being able to encourage another human being. Now, I will encourage you to use these 5 E’s with the people around you, making it your habit to give honest and sincere appreciation to others wherever you go, and your life will never be the same. Oh, and by the way...if someone pays you a compliment, receive it by simply saying, “Thank you!”

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