Motivational speakers make a profession out of encouraging others. And it's not as simple as pasting on a smile and telling someone her hair looks good. It's easier for some than others. So here's a quick guide to determine if you are using all the means you have to encourage those around you.
1. Care about encouraging others. You can't encourage others unless you really care about them. If you turn your charm on and off like a light switch, then perhaps you have some room for improvement.
2. Smile and look people in the eyes. It's amazing what happens when you stop and really look someone in the eyes and smile. Keep their gaze for a moment. Unless you live in New York. And maybe even then.
3. Have a nice comment ready. "How are you?" is fine, but it's a little bit overused, don't you think? Come up with something else short and pleasant. It shows them that you aren't just acting on auto pilot.
4. Listen to their reply. Why did you ask them how they were, and then walk off before they answered? I know it's what we do. But just imagine if you stopped and waited for their reply? I did this once to the Starbucks barista and she started to cry. She said nobody had ever asked her how she was doing. (Now that's just sad.)
5. Ask about them. Even if you don't know much about them, find something to ask them about, or compliment them on. If you have a customer who brings a child, ask about the child. Shoot, even talk to the child. You'll get major points!
6. Tell people you enjoyed seeing them. Thank them for coming to work. Tell them your day is better because you saw them. Show them how much you needed them.
7. Do it even when you don't feel like it. If we waited until we felt like encouraging other people, we might not ever get around to it. We have to be proactive about it. Write it on your to-do list if you have to. I promise, it's worth it. One day it will be you on the receiving end.