#MotivationNation: How to Become a Master Encourager and Inspire Those Around You

vector picture showing a woman choosing between different types of mindsets: scared, sad, or happy

May 16, 2024

Improving encouraging behaviours is a game changer for your communication skills. It will help you with your boss, subordinates, peers, spouse, friends and family.

In a previous article, I addressed the differences between encouragement and praise but did not focus on the importance of courage and encouragement for mental well-being. 

What is the psychological view of courage? Does courage have components? And all this theory is interesting, but how can I put it into practice? These started as questions I heard in my practice, and in this article, I intend to share my humble 2 pence on the topic. Keep reading to find out more.

What is courage?

The way Adlerian literature defines courage is a deep-seated attitude that one is equipped with the needed resources to cope with life’s unexpected challenges. Because we are human, we will sometimes make a mistake, which will help us learn and progress. 

Two main facets make up courage: movement and cooperation with others. Encouraged individuals do not hesitate to reach out to others in collaboration and life’s necessary dynamic of give and take.

We grow discouraged when a perceived negative experience stops us from the reach-out movement for fear of rejection, ridicule, and abandonment, to name a few. The amount of threatening challenges we can face without losing courage informs our psychological tolerance level.

If you want to learn more about your own level of psychological tolerance, please get in touch to arrange a consultation call.

Practical ways to encourage others

Look for strenghts

We all develop traits to deal with the surrounding environment. Betty Lou Bettner put it brilliantly: character traits are resources people have developed to cope and go forward. No human trait or characteristic can be labelled until it is used in some way. So the resources we have aren’t inherently good or bad, they become useful and conjunctive (they connect us to others) or not useful and disjunctive (they keep us away from others). 

If we believe that people’s traits can be used on the useful side of social interactions, we can develop the ability to see beyond the outer shell of the behaviour. For example, someone who often turns to jokes as a means of socialising can become the life and soul of a party. If that strength gets overdone, it can lead to hurtful sarcasm or inappropriate light-heartedness. Another example is being energetic turning into overinvolvement when it goes too far. All strengths can be overused (more on that in a future article). If you want to up your encouragement game, start practising spotting strengths, even in behaviours that don’t seem “worthy of encouragement”. 

Recognise effort

Sometimes, the process can be more important than the outcome. We all have met that one person who tends to become a bit too competitive. Imagine the potential discouragement of yearning to win all day, every day: the internal feeling of not being good enough leads to an overly vigorous compensation swing. Encouragement entails noticing when someone has made an incremental improvement, putting it into context, and making an invitation to enjoy the increased competence. For example, let’s say your child has an important music audition coming up. You can see your child trying very hard, sometimes exaggerating. Would it be, perhaps, encouraging to say: “You managed to hit that high pitch like never before. At this pace, you’ll be more prepared for your audition next week. How are you feeling about your progress?”

Develop the skill of giving and receiving feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most appropriate ways in which someone can offer encouragement. Sadly, the opposite is also true – too many discouraging moments have occurred during feedback rounds. That’s why it is essential to hone our feedback skills – it develops self-awareness and invites others to do the same. 

Some quick tips to improve your feedback skills are:

  • Be specific, rather than generalising. Use “I” statements, as that will make it more about your lenses, not putting an intense spotlight on the other. Offer observations rather than interpretations or assumptions. Also, make sure your feedback gets offered as a set of ideas rather than giving advice about what the other person should do. 
  • When receiving feedback, listen to it all. You are being given information about how others perceive you. Clarify what you don’t understand and don’t forget that you get to decide what you do with the feedback. You can take it on board, act on it, disagree with it, or even ignore it. The choice is yours.


There you have it, a brief overview of how to instil courage in others. The best part is that these tips can be applied to self-encouragement as well. In fact, I do invite you to try these techniques out with yourself first. Can you be more intentional about noticing strengths in your behaviours (without finding excuses and rationalising)? Can you tune in to process progress as opposed to final results? Would you like to practice being more tuned in to feedback you might receive this week? 

What you notice might surprise you. 

Encouragement and developing the skills of being courageous play a big part in my private practice work. I help people move from a place of doubt to a sense of confidence that life’s challenges won’t be overwhelming. If that’s what you want from your life, get in touch