Types of Phrases of Encouragement

Encouragement helps others achieve more.
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Encouragement helps people stay focused and work harder toward achieving their desired goal, especially when faced with a difficult task that might seem impossible. Understanding different types of phrases of encouragement can help you choose the right thing to say to help friends when they're in need of an added boost. It can also help you recognize when others are trying to help you achieve success.

1 Demonstrating Caring

It's helpful to demonstrate how much you care about the people you're trying to encourage. Phrases such as, "Congrats, that was so well done," are enriched when you add, ”I'm so proud of you," "It means so much to me to see your success," or "I'm looking forward to watching you succeed next time." This reflects your personal interest in their progress and increases their desire to succeed because you care about them.

2 Acknowledging Past Accomplishments

Reminding your friends of their past accomplishments can encourage them to keep striving toward a goal that seems out of reach. Use phrases such as, "You're so much stronger and faster now. Remember how close you came to doing it last year," or "Don't forget how much your math test scores have improved this semester." These phrases help your friends remember how they overcame past obstacles and see their future goals as reachable. Acknowledging the efforts made in the past can inspire your friends to continue working hard.

3 Focusing on the Positive

Demonstrate confidence that your friends can achieve their goals. Focus on the positive, using phrases that highlight their strengths. For example, if a friend is trying out for the football team, try saying, "Of course, you're strong enough." It's helpful to celebrate small successes along the way to the ultimate goal, says psychologist Julie Exline, in her "Psychology Today" article, "The Quiet Power of Encouragement." For example, if your sister plays only the first few bars of a new song on a musical instrument, telling her, "That sounds awesome!" can provide the confidence she needs to continue.

4 Providing Specific Detail

Effective encouragement is specific and provides details. Education expert, Ann Corwin suggests that being specific helps people understand exactly what they've done right so far. It also demonstrates that the encourager is paying attention to what's been accomplished and what still needs to be done. This emphasizes the relevance of the encouragement. For example, instead of simply saying, "Well done," or "Great," try specific phrases such as, "You're always ready to go on time," "That story you wrote described the characters so vividly," or "I admire your energy and willingness to help out whenever I ask."

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.