Margaret Ingram Memorial Service, May 23, 2013. Photo: Ida Colquitt
The other day I attended a memorial service for my neighbor’s mother who passed away, and each of her children spoke about the relationship they had with her. 
One of the prevailing thoughts about the deceased was that she often gave
encouragement and encouraging words to those around her.  
Her youngest son, who is a twin, said something that will remain in my memory for a very long time because it was something that mothers are known for, she said, “you’re going to finish school, and people are going to stop talking about you.”  In other words, she was telling this young son, who’s now 35 years old, no matter what people say about you, you will succeed. No matter how others may look down on you, you will succeed.

Encouraging Words Motivate
We often feed ourselves negative thoughts in the morning before we begin our day.  We may talk to ourselves by saying, “I don’t feel good today,” or “I’m tired,” or I’m sick and tired of going to this or that job.”  All those negative thoughts are entering into our minds, then our hearts, and before you know it, we do begin to feel down and depressed. But when you replace the negative with the positive, you can turn your
world around. Replace those bad habits of saying negative words with this instead, “I feel great today,” “I’m going to accomplish awesome things today,” or “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Encouragement Takes A Compassionate Heart
Take a moment to think about someone who can use a word of encouragement today.  I know you can think of one, two or maybe three. All it takes is a moment of unselfishness – taking your mind off you for a moment.  Think about a student
who is failing is school, a mother who lost her child or someone who lost their
job.  And don’t assume that because a person does not look sad that they do not need encouraging words. Looks can be deceiving.  A  well-dress individual, who drives a nice vehicle and has a great job, could very well be the person who needs the most encouragement.    

Compliments Go A Long Way
A compliment is a way of encouraging someone, and is one of the simplest ways to encourage.  Try giving a compliment, and see what it does for the person you
compliment.  Have you ever noticed someone and thought a good thought about him or her but did not say anything?  I am sure you have.  The next time you are in a situation when you have a good thought about someone, tell them – you have nothing to lose, but every thing to gain. 
Remember the mother that encouraged her son; he did turn out to be a
successful person who lights up a room with his warmth and sensitive way. 

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Connecting with people takes skill. Talk to people not at them.
Connecting with people verbally and in writing is important is business and social settings. President Barack Obama is a master communicator – he is considered one of the greatest communicators in the history of United States Presidents.  His style of communication makes you feel apart of the conversation, and you feel like he is talking directly to you, whether you agree or disagree with his message. 
People don’t want to be talked At, they want to be talked To.  For example, if I said, “Johnny, go to the store,” that is talking At; but if I said, “Johnny, would you go to the store?” that is talking To him.  When you allow a person to respond, you are communicating and connecting.  Talking to a person includes their input, and allows an exchange in the conversation. I prefer talking to people, that way I can get better and more productive results.  You may not realize that you are talking at someone. 

Here are some signals that you are talking At someone:
1.  You don’t remember the response.
2.  You did not ask a question.
3.  The person you are talking with doesn’t open up. 
4.  You are not getting any response from the audience.
You can change your behavior from ineffective to effective by changing the way you to talk To others.  There are some key strategies you can use to be a more effective communicator:
1.  Ask a question politely in a kind voice (not forceful).
2.  Listen for their response.
3.  Repeat their response back to them.
4.  Reply with descriptive words or gestures.  
Remember the three main things in communication:   Words, Voice Tone and Body Language, from, www.wordsthatshooktheworld.com.  If these three are used effectively, you can be a great communicator.

How will you improve the way you communicate?