*This is a guest post by psychologist Dr. Paul White. Learn more about Paul’s great work at appreciationatwork.com
You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped. You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome. Life (both at work and outside of work) is difficult (at times, at least.)
So what do you do?
It depends — on you and on the circumstances. Sometimes you “put your head down” and just keep at it — persevering.
Other times you get frustrated and maybe even downright mad, and you let others around you know it.
Maybe you withdraw, which can take different forms: you go to a movie, or you sit at home and binge on Netflix. Some people drink to “get away from it for a while”. Some of us go and eat a boatload of ice cream. All efforts to ease the pain and try to feel better.
Sometimes we may take the “healthy” route — and go exercise at the gym, or go for a run.
What is discouragement, really?
Discouragement literally means, “without courage”. We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day. We lose heart. We are worn out. We wonder if “it” (our goals / our vision) is worth all of the time and effort we are putting into trying to make things happen.
Anyone who has goals they are trying to reach (if they are honest about it) becomes discouraged. The obstacles to overcome loom large and seem to be multiplying (versus going away as we deal with them). We don’t seem to be making progress and wonder if all that we are doing makes any difference at all.
The Relationship between Discouragement and Appreciation
Appreciation is the act of communicating the fact that you value something about another person, or what they have done. (And hopefully, you communicate the appreciation in the way that is meaningful to the other person.)
Encouragement is closely related to appreciation. Encouragement is coming alongside of someone and trying to support and “give them courage” to keep going — that their efforts aren’t in vain. The focus of encouragement is the present and future, while the emphasis of appreciation is for actions demonstrated in the past.
When you see someone who is discouraged, you can use actions from their preferred language of appreciation to encourage them (find out your “language” here).
Give them a word of encouragement (“You are doing, great, Jeanne! I am impressed with how much progress you’ve made on this project this week.”) Stop by their workspace, check in and see how they are doing. See if there is a little something you could do that would help them move forward on the task. Bring them their favorite Starbucks unannounced.
Yes, we all get discouraged. But that is partly what colleagues are for — to be there when we are losing hope and let us know that if we keep going, we can (and WILL) get the task done!
Paul White, Ph.D. is a psychologist, speaker, and consultant. He is co-author of the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, and Sync or Swim. For more information on how to communicate authentic appreciation in your workplace, go to appreciationatwork.com.