Think about the last time you neared the completion of a big, scary, audacious goal — something you’d worked tirelessly for and had only a few final steps to go. What if, as you readied yourself to push through the exhaustion, a friend said to you, “You might be able to make it, but if you don’t, that’s OK.”
Would those words inspire you to persevere? Or, after hearing them, would you question whether you could really finish?
What if this same friend instead sent a text saying, “Don’t stop! You’re so close! I believe in you!” Would the language of this message kick-start your efforts and provide the energy you needed to remain focused?
The words that serve to motivate and inspire us are referred to as our Language of Encouragement.
What Is a Language of Encouragement?
Most of us require encouragement in order to succeed to our fullest potentials. This support, also known as a Language of Encouragement, helps us achieve more than we believed we could on our own and carries us through challenging moments. It can apply either to encouragement you receive from a friend or coworker or the way you talk to yourself.
Even the most well-intended cheers, however, fall short when the language directed at us is not worded in a way we find motivational. But it can be difficult to define what that looks like. We know we crave support, yet we have trouble pinpointing the words of encouragement that propel us forward and the varieties of motivational language that are ineffective.
For example, some prefer short, cheerful statements. Others thrive on terse warnings about the perils of failure.
Until we identify our unique Language of Encouragement, well-meaning friends invariably fall back on their own preferred language when offering inspiration. At best, these words do nothing to inspire us. At worst, they prompt our inner rebellious child to metaphorically roll her eyes and quit.
So keep reading to find out what motivates you.
Which of the 4 Personalities Are You?
Creating and defining a new language can seem daunting. Don’t worry: It’s not as difficult as it may appear. We each respond to words in different ways, but there are four clearly defined personality types to help you determine what motivates you to reach your goals.
Once you’ve identified which of the four personalities is a fit for you, you’re well on your way to defining your Language of Encouragement.
This is you if you respond well to peppy voicemails or texts. You’re most encouraged by cheers, such as “You can do it! You’ve got this!” And you surround yourself with a tribe of optimists. When you start to falter or question your capabilities, you don’t want a deep conversation about long-term goals. You respond best to sentiments that convey upbeat, unfaltering belief in your abilities.
2. Drill Sergeant
People drawn to the drill sergeant personality are motivated when instructed what to do in clear, concise phrases. This type possesses zero patience for coddling and takes action when encouraged by blunt language. Don’t talk about your “long run” — just get out there and do it! This personality type is inspired to outperform expectations when spoken to in plain, unsentimental terms.
Somewhere in between cheerleader and drill sergeant falls the personality of the coach. These individual’s preferred motivation is a mix of cheers (“You created a great plan!”) and old-fashioned coaching sentiment (“Remember the plan and stick to it!”). If this personality resonates with you, you thrive on consistent messaging peppered with reminders of preparedness.
If your personality is closest to the teammate persona, you’re inspired by language that reminds you that you’re not alone. Even when a goal is a solo one, you thrive on the sense of others toiling alongside you. “We’re all in this together!” might prompt you to stay late at work to complete a project even when the “all” isn’t with you in the cubicle at the time. Being part of a larger team and not wanting to let anyone down are the key characteristics that propel this type of person forward.
Tailoring Your Language of Encouragement
Now let’s break down how to define a Language of Encouragement uniquely tailored to your needs. Remember, even the most powerful pep talks fall flat when language used isn’t what we respond to.
1. Consider how you like to receive support.
While seemingly not directly connected with your language, this is a pivotal piece of information for your support team. Do you prefer phone calls? Are you motivated best by text or email? Do you respond only to direct face-to-face communication? In addition to your chosen language, this an important aspect of receiving the type of encouragement you need.
2. Reflect on the last time you felt encouraged.
Now that you know your personality type, it’s time to get specific. Consider the last instance you felt wholly supported and sensed others had faith in your ability to succeed. What words were shared? Which adjectives were used? What was the other person’s tone of voice and volume level? The more details you can provide to your support team, the more swiftly your team will become fluent in your language.
3. Create examples.
When conveying your Language of Encouragement to others, it’s impossible to be too specific. Remember, this is your tribe. Whether a boss, friend or family member, these are the people who celebrate your successes with as much joy as you do. It’s important to furnish clear examples of both language that inspires you and words that cause you to contemplate surrender. The better you are able to convey and provide concrete examples of the language you need, the more rapidly you’ll receive the encouragement you desire.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever examined your Language of Encouragement? Which of the four personality types best suits your support needs? Have you been on the receiving end of well-intended words that missed the mark? Are there any other types of encouragements you’ve received that motivated you? Share your stories and suggestions in the comments section below!