The Grace of Affirmation

I am reposting this essay with permission from Linda Lowe Apple 
We all need encouragement and it doesn’t take much to affirm others. thank you, Linda!
“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I remember hearing about a behavioral study by a class on their professor without his knowledge. They decided that when he walked toward the right side of the room they would pay attention. But as he walked to the left side they would not look at him, doodle, slouch in their chairs and look out the window.

It didn’t take long before the professor taught solely from the right side of the room that day and he didn’t realize it.  Why did he do this? Because the student’s attention affirmed that his teaching was interesting and needed, and that only happened on the right side of the room.

All of us need encouragement.

You know, most of us hear all the wrong things we do. Sometimes these wrong doings are assumptions on expectations of others; sometimes they are correct and helpful criticisms. But even correct and helpful criticisms need to be liberally sprinkled with encouragement. We all need to hear what we do right, otherwise, we feel like gum under the shoes of the world. Some think that negative encouragement motivates. For most it doesn’t. It depresses. And those whom it does motivate, it does so in a way as to promote an antagonistic spirit.

Children need correction, but they also need affirmation. Not necessarily over-the-top empty praise, but they need to hear what they have done right.

Adults need encouragement as well. I can’t tell you how much the affirmations from the members of this group have meant to me. Family members, co-workers, friends, those in community service need to hear about the things they have done right.

This week, affirm others.


Published in: on May 28, 2011 at 10:06 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for the good reminder. People need confirmation that they’re on the right track. Even when training dogs, they respond better to praise than critism.

  2. What a lovely reminder, Heidi! We can use affirmations to encourage our writing too. When you write something that really “sings” or finish a particularly difficult project, don’t just pat yourself on the back, give yourself an “atta girl” out loud. It may sound silly to appreciate oneself out loud, but it really does work!

  3. This practice is a goal to strive for. Having worked in juvenile corrections for twenty years I can attest to the power of affirming statements. If we make mistakes learn from them, then figure out what we did right and go from there. Here is to all the things we do right!

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