Do you know anyone who consistently encourages other people? If you do, do you find it difficult to get angry with them? I know someone like that. He is a man in my church. He has been in the community for many years, and everyone I know loves him. It seems that everyone has only good things to say about him. Even when he does something frustrating, it's almost impossible to get angry with him. A few days ago, my two daughters were discussing some events at our church. In the course of the conversation, this gentleman's name came up, and my oldest daughter said: “He's so nice. It's impossible to not like him.”
Today, I was looking through the finalists for Kevin Eikenberry's Best Leadership Blog's contest. While perusing the blogs, I found Steve Farber's post on helping someone else be Greater Than Yourself (GTY). In Steve's post, he commented on this type of behavior in light of great leadership. I agree with him that people who lift other's up tend to develop greater influence, and therefore leadership, with others.
In the context of conflict resolution, how much relational “capital” would you have with others if you made it a point to look for ways to encourage and lift them up before you had a conflict. How would your past behaviors help you to resolve a current conflict more quickly and productively? I think you would be much further ahead if you had that reputation. On the extreme opposite side of the issue, I think most of us would agree that discouraging others would put you “in the hole” with them? That concept is pretty easy to see.
What if your behaviors were not that extreme? What if you did not actually discourage people? What if you just failed to consistently encourage them? You would definitely miss the benefit of the other person feeling about you the way my daughters feel about the encourager in our church. You would certainly miss the benefit of the doubt when the inevitable conflict arose in your relationship. You might even start just a little “in the hole.”
These thoughts have challenged me today. I think I'll go look for some opportunities to encourage people. I hope you will do the same.
Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/.