Empathy is OK; Encouraging your Team is Better

The wrong approach to empathy and encouragement validates poor performance, frustrates leaders, and hinders teams.

Encouragement is better than empathy.

Responsible failure calls for empathy and encouragement. Empathy feels good, but encouragement nudges people to reach higher next time.

Empathy says, “I accept you.” Encouragement says, “I believe in you.”

Too much empathy validates lack of effort and causes self-indulgence. Encouragement says, “You can reach higher.” Show a little empathy. Give lots of encouragement.

Empathy provides a relational foundation for encouragement.

Encouragement isn’t:

Encouragement isn’t telling someone they did a good job when they fell short. That’s a lie that affirms indifference and mediocrity. Never affirm lackluster performance due to lack of preparation, low effort, or want of commitment.

Encouragement matters when people work hard but fall short.

The real truth about encouragement:

#1. Encouragement is challenge wrapped in affirmation. “I know you’re disappointed in your performance. I know you put in extra hours on this project. Frankly, I believe you can do better, too. Maybe it’s not about more hours.”

#2. Encouragement acknowledges useful behaviors and advantageous attitudes. Empathy sees the pain and acknowledges disappointment. Encouragement builds on small successes.

#3. Encouragement sees fruitful progress and believes there’s more.

#4. Encouragement nudges people toward stretching their strengths. Encouragement energizes people to try again in new ways. Empathy, done poorly, suggests that failure is the best you can do.

It’s not encouragement if people feel satisfied with disappointing performance.

#5. Encouragement is noticing contribution even when performance falls below expectation. Make a ‘contribution list’ that illustrates the benefits you brought to the project or team.

  1. How might your contributions make a difference in future efforts?
  2. What strengths enabled your contributions?
  3. What interactions and relationships escalated your contributions?
  4. What will you do next time?

Latest News

How Important is U.S. Ag and Food to the Economy?

In celebration of National Ag Day and National Ag Week, the 2023 Feeding the Economy report shows just how vital the industry is to U.S. families, communities and the world.

Ferrie: Ready, Set, Whoops! A Fast Start To Fieldwork Could Cost You Big In Corn At V5

Caution can help you avoid creating compaction or density layers. Plus, if you're applying anhydrous now, allowing 14 days between the application and planting can prevent dead or damaged plants and costly yield dings.

Nebraska Farmland Values Jump 14% in 2023 — Up 30% in Two Years

This year marks the second-largest increase in the market value of agricultural land in Nebraska since 2014 and the highest non-inflation-adjusted statewide land value in the 45-year history of the survey. 

U.S. Milk Production and Cow Numbers Both Rise

The February 2023 USDA Milk Production report showed an 0.8% increase in year-over-year milk production with a total of 17.7 billion lbs. of milk. Also following suit, U.S. cow numbers also documented growth.

Crude Oil Prices Drop Below $70: What is the Outlook for Consumers at the Pump and Farmers Heading Into Spring Planting?

Oil prices are also off their highs of last year and gas and diesel prices are also sliding at the pump, but will that trend continue ahead of planting?   Energy experts are hoping the answer is yes.  

Can History Making $20 Billion in Inflation Reduction Act Get Rolled Out Quickly Enough?

Industry experts say the new legislative package represents a 'generational opportunity' for conservation funding and needs to reach U.S. farmers and livestock producers sooner rather than later, starting this spring.