One wife waited patiently, then impatiently, for her husband to repair the lawn mower as he had promised. One day, not wanting to confront him in anger, she tried another tack. That was the day he came home and found her seated on the ground snipping grass with sewing scissors, one blade at a time. He watched in absolute amazement. Then he went into the house and returned with a toothbrush.
"Honey," he said, "when you finish
cutting the grass would you mind sweeping the sidewalks?"
laughed. And, more importantly, he turned his attention to the
We've all been there. We want to encourage a child to do her
homework, or a spouse to complete a project, or a colleague to follow through.
How can we encourage without criticizing, nagging, berating or
Maybe because I'm the one that occasionally has to be nudged,
I've learned a few important things about the finer points of positive
First, whenever possible, try to keep it light-hearted. The
careful use of humor can work in any relationship to make the point in a way it
will be heard. Sometimes we are so frustrated we know that however we say it, it
will be bound to come out wrong. These are especially the times when humor may
Second, without exception, be polite and respectful. Sometimes
it's more about how we say it than what we say. Too much of the world is run on
the theory that you don't need road manners if you drive a five-ton truck. No
one wants to be forced, pushed, run over, cajoled or manipulated. They want to
Finally, as often as you can, show appreciation. Novelist
Arnold Bennett had a publisher who boasted about the consistently exceptional
work of his assistant. One day while visiting the publisher's office, Bennett
struck up a conversation with the valued employee. He told her what her boss
said about her work. "What's your secret?" he asked.
"It's not my
secret," said the assistant, "it's his." She went on to tell him that her boss
always acknowledges and appreciates everything she does, regardless how
insignificant. That is why she finds it so easy to take pride in her work. The
appreciation of her employer nudges her toward constant
These are a few of the finer points of positive motivation.
And even if motivating is not your purpose, respect and appreciation, topped off
with a little humor is bound to improve any relationship.
-- Steve Goodier (Life Support System)