Are you familiar with the Parable of Two Frogs? If not, here ’tis: A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, they agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their demise because they were as good as dead.
Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless. Others shouted that the two trapped frogs should save their energy and give up. The two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary.
Finally, one of the frogs, spent and disheartened, quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. The other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he could muster even though his body was wracked with pain and exhaustion. In spite of the fact that his companions continued yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain, and die, the weary frog jumped harder and harder until he leaped so high that he sprang from the pit.
Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his freedom from the pit and then asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?” Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds.
This simple story contains a powerful lesson: words of encouragement hold tremendous power. The Book of Proverbs states, “There is death and life in the power of the tongue.” Your words of encouragement can change the course of a career, the strength of a relationship, the quality of a life, and the success of an individual or organization.
Last week I asked a group of leaders to select one person with whom they would like an improved relationship. They were to give five pieces of positive feedback to that person throughout the week and share what happened at our next meeting.
We met as a group yesterday and Joan, one of the managers, shared that she had an employee with whom she’d had a lousy relationship for two years. Each avoided the other as much as possible. Joan chose this employee to be the recipient of her positive feedback. As you might guess, Joan’s willingness to set aside her pride and honor her employee with positive feedback on strengths the employee possessed harvested positive results. The “ice” melted, the walls came down, and a change in the employee’s demeanor was evident. Joan can now see that, through the use of encouraging words, she might actually gain this employee’s commitment.
Do you like TIPS? Here’s one for you: Your words don’t have to be eloquent. They just need to be Timely, Important to the task, Personal, Specific and Sincere.
Begin today to create the relationships you want: Give 5 pieces of positive feedback to someone whose commitment you’d like. Then send me an email telling me the difference your feedback made. I’ll send a copy of my book, The Art of Fielding Questions with Finesse, to the person with the best story to tell.