When asking friends about the benefits of giving affirmation, they can list them. Yet, when asked how good they are at giving affirmation, they confess to not being as good as they ‘ought to be’.
To give affirmation is to positively assert approval of someone or something. Our affirmation can be given in recognition of a person’s skills, personality, or actions.
If you’re like me, you’ll be inconsistent with giving affirmation. I fail to acknowledge the specific contributions of others through the affirmation and praise that’ll help to encourage them.
My problem is that I assume they know how much I appreciate them. I then fall into the trap of expressing nothing meaningful about the value they add to my life. It shouldn’t be that way!
With that in mind, I wanted to offer three reasons why we should consider giving affirmation to others.
#1. Giving affirmation to others changes our perspective
Pointing out the negative isn’t that hard. In fact, it comes quite naturally to many of us.
Whether it’s a colleague, spouse, child, or even ourselves, we tend to spot too easily what we don’t like. By default we find it easier to see what isn’t working, what’s least effective, and what most frustrates us.
Identifying the positive, however, requires effort. But when we commit to looking for the strengths and good attributes in others, we tend to find them.
It’s like a game I’ve played with my children called ‘Yellow Car, No Return.’ It never ceases to surprise me how many yellow cars we spot once we start to look for them.
The same is true of the things we can affirm in others. When we look for them, they show up. This shifts our attitude and perspective, and in time, helps us to develop a new habit.
One of looking for what is positive and giving affirmation to people, that encourages their growth and confidence.
#2. Giving affirmation to others helps build relationships
I know of no one who at heart doesn’t need or value affirmation. To have a sense of doing a good job and adding value is core to living with a purpose.
This is where giving affirmation is invaluable. For when offered appropriately, we communicate to others that we value them and their contribution. In doing so, we connect and establish rapport.
Positive affirmation empowers others and strengthens self-esteem. Receiving affirmation also helps to increase their confidence, resulting in improved well-being and performance.
When we receive evidence based affirmation, we feel good. So it goes without saying that if you’re someone who affirms others, they’ll be more likely to want to be around you.
By giving affirmation we lay the foundations for building positive and healthy relationships.
#3. Giving affirmation makes way for constructive feedback
If you’re known for giving affirmation, your criticism — if required — will be better received. People who ordinarily look for positives, afford themselves the privilege of offering negative feedback when needed.
When seen as someone who looks for the best in others, people feel safer in your company. They’ll also be less likely to feel judged and will be more open to your input. This is a good platform from which to offer constructive feedback.
We all have areas that can be developed. Our performance, behaviour, attitude, and character can all be improved with the helpful input of others. And generally speaking, we all want constructive feedback — delivered in the right way of course!
As with feedback, how we give affirmation is worth giving some thought to, so here are some things to consider:
- Overcome feeling awkward
- Be clear on what you want to affirm
- Choose an appropriate time
- Start with a smile
- Make it personal by using “You”
- Give it in the present tense
- Make it specific
- Give supporting evidence
- Put it in writing
- If appropriate, make it public
- Say it from the heart
By making a daily practice of giving affirmation, you’ll have a more positive outlook in life, be the kind of person others want to be around, and position yourself to be able to offer feedback that’ll help others to be their best.
Question: How good are you at giving affirmation?
Action: Choose one person you can affirm. Make a list of the affirmation you can offer. Tell them before the end of the week.