In our coalition work, we are focused on getting others to work together – or as one of my favorite coalition colleagues used to say “play nice and share our toys.” While in some situations and with some groups and organizations, this can be really easy. In other circumstances, this can seem impossible. One of the practices that continues to make a big difference in my experience in bringing people together is encouragement. When we take the time to genuinely encourage our colleagues, our friends and even those who may appear adversarial, we can build and strengthen the relationships needed to work together. Join me this week as I highlight three ways you can practice encouragement in your coalition setting.
Use your words.
Last week, I had the opportunity to present and discuss sustainability alongside two other colleagues from different states and experiences. As I answered the questions on behalf of our work, I also took an opportunity to recognize and encourage their work. At the time, I didn’t even recognize what I was doing – I was genuinely impressed and wanted to emphasize the importance. When the session was over, my co-presenters thanked me for encouraging them and their work. As I reflected on this, I was grateful that I had taken the opportunity to use my words to encourage them and their great work. We can do that within our coalitions as well! Whether you are in a workgroup meeting, a one-on-one interaction or have an opportunity to present to others, consider how you can encourage the work of those around you. As you build them up, you are also creating opportunities to continue to work together.
Demonstrate with facial expressions.
While our words can be impactful, our facial expressions are sometimes even more powerful. When participating in a meeting or a conversation, you can practice smiling, nodding and looking genuinely interested in the other person as they are sharing their perspective or presenting on a topic. Those who participate regularly with me will expect me to ask folks to show their video when possible. One of the reasons I want to see people – and for people to see one another – is so that we can encourage one another with our facial expressions and non-verbal communication. When we cannot see one another, we cannot assess how the information is being received nor can we really know if they are with us in the conversation. When we pay attention and show our interest, we are encouraging our colleagues and partners!
Write a note.
Taking the time to write a note is an extremely honoring and intentional way to encourage another person. When you write a note, be specific about what you were impressed with or appreciate about the other person. In our very busy days, we can get caught up with all of the “urgent and important” tasks that we cannot see how it would be possible to pause and write. However, when we take the time to send a short email or even better a handwritten note, we are doing the “non-urgent and important” work that builds and sustains our coalition relationships. When we invest in our relationships and practice encouragement, we will be able to work together and make an even bigger impact together.
What about you? Which of these encouragement practices will you try this week?
If you would like more resources to support your coalition work and engage your coalition well, check out my free resource, 10 Essential Coalition Engagement Skills.