The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger. Proverbs 25:11-12 (The Message)
In this time when we find the national discourse to be so negative and discouraging, I look to Proverbs to find some wisdom.
When I see clients, I look for ways to encourage them. I affirm progress that they have made, I make observations about their strengths, and I try to give them hope for solutions about their problems.
I must add that I do not simply “make things up” to make people feel good. That would be wrong and counterproductive- demeaning, actually. I look for genuine ways that I can find positive things in their life, their work toward counseling goals, their care for others that I observe, etc. and then I give them that feedback.
It is not hard to find positive attributes in people with whom we have a relationship. The challenge is to tell people what you see in them. So often, I see clients brighten just a little when encouraged with such positive feedback. Research has shown that people tend to live up to (or down to) the words spoken into them, especially from those who are trusted.
Yes, Proverbs also talks about the flip side of this too- reprimands for poor actions or faulty thinking. That truth must also be spoken. That must also be done with kindness and respect, and it can only be heard if one has gained the right to do so in the relationship.
However, today’s thought is this. Simply look for the things you can affirm- then do it.
Prayer: Lord, you have given us the power of emotional life and death in our words. Help us to use them wisely, Amen