For most of the year, my husband and father play an online word game against each other, separated by some 2,000 miles and two to three time zones (depending on the time of year). Since my parents have been visiting this week, they have been playing one another on tablet devices from across the room. Yet I barely recognize they’re playing the same game.

You see my husband (much to my consternation sometimes) plays with the sound turned up, yielding a string of beeps and dings, but also frequent declarations of “Excellent!”, “Out-stand-ingggg!!” and “Increeeedible!!!” – a stream of positive reinforcement that can’t help but boost one’s self-esteem.

My dad, meanwhile, plays with the game on mute. No pats on the back. No atta-boys. No praise at all. So sad … even if he is almost always winning. I’m not sure why he doesn’t turn up the sound – on a tablet or phone, we control the mute button and volume. Not so in other realms … except we do. We control the feedback we give to others.

So take a look around today. Is there someone who could benefit from an “Excellent” or “Incredible”? Someone to whom you’ve been meaning to say “You’re wonderful” or “Job well done”? Then turn your volume up and do it.

(And Dad and Hubby, if you’re reading this, I think you’re both “Out-stand-ingggg!!”)

1 thought on “Encouragement.”

  1. It is strange that for kids life is set up (or should be) with these automatic encouragment givers: parents, teachers, coahces, counselors. But as adults we are rarely in relationships that mirror the hierarchies of those ‘mandated’ encouragment givers. So you are right! We need to find ways to give encouragement or praise to one another. And not for the big stuff (the promotion, the prize) but for the little stuff: great job on writing those emails that were hanging over your head! I suppose that one could set up some sort of automatic encouragment generator that would get triggered when you accomplished certain designated tasks (a voice in your car could praise you for that excellent job parallel parking).


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