Chapter 10: The power of words
“There is nothing in the world more powerful than a positive encouragement.
It can be a smile,
a word of sincere encouragement,
or a timely sharing.”- Richard M. DeVos
The story of two friends
At the age of 25, I started teaching.
A colleague about 8 years older than me enthusiastically guided me
when I was still very surprised with the profession.
I feel honored that he is an outstanding teacher,
and I know I can learn a lot from him.
I’m always grateful for his criticism
when he shows me what I’ve done wrong
and explains why some students don’t like me.
Once we became friends,
his advice has greatly encouraged my life.
I feel the need to improve myself further,
and in terms of lifestyle.
But I still feel that I am not very confident
and don’t know how much more
I have to try and when to become a real complete person.
Another friend moved in
when I was teaching for 6 years.
His name is Tim Hansel.
The highlight of him is
that he always attracts the attention
of the students
during his lessons.
I was very curious and wanted to find out
where his charisma lies
and what he did so well with.
Since we teach the same subject
and the same group of experts,
we see each other every day.
It didn’t take me long to find the answer myself.
I noticed that he has a special talent
for bringing out the good in others.
Instead of talking about his students’ faults
he very often emphasized their achievements
or potential for growth.
For me too,
Tim said that he admires my dedication to the profession,
that my efforts will definitely pay off.
He often praised how my students liked me,
that they learned a lot of useful things
from my classes beyond the knowledge in the textbook.
When talking about problems in life,
he helps me see things that I have never paid attention to:
I have been doing well both as a teacher
and as a true human being.
So what difference can we see in the two friends above?
To my critical friend,
who I once admired deeply,
I have learned a lot from him,
most of his criticisms towards me are very true
and I thank him for that.
But what makes me sad is that
I can’t find any compliments to balance his criticisms.
And I feel frustrated since then.
I feel more confident,
stronger in every word,
in every action.
He still reminds me of the good things in life
and about who I am.
Although we are much older now,
he is still the same person:
always helping others see the good in him
and above all helping to strengthen their faith in them.
Lessons from Lincoln and Franklin
Since I majored in history,
I had the opportunity to read biographies of many famous people
and it was reading those books that
led me to study psychology.
Nothing can make us understand success better than
reading books about the most successful people in history.
Two of those famous people are Abraham Lincoln
and Benjamin Franklin.
A person best known as the first president
to abolish slavery in the United States;
the other was a learned scholar,
and a famous statesman.
But it’s not their career successes that interest me,
it’s the way they conquer others that interests me.
Their greatest trait is their ability to socialize
with all kinds of people and to bring out the best in others.
Both are similar in their outstanding talent
and a harmonious ego.
My history teacher loved Abraham Lincoln
and seemed to know everything about him.
His name is Ashbrook Lincoln,
and of course he signs his name
as “A. Lincoln” to express his admiration for Abraham Lincoln.
I still vividly remember his lectures about President Lincoln.
I was intrigued by the different characterizations of the people
who worked around the president in the White House.
Each of them thinks they are better than the President.
But because it made a difference to them,
Lincoln honored them.
He praised their abilities,
asked for their opinions,
and encouraged them to bring their talents
and abilities to the service of the country.
So everyone was a winner.
Franklin is often described as a born diplomat
who knows how to please others.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration
because Franklin admits he also has personality flaws.
In his autobiography,
Franklin recounts how he struggled to win the battle
tendency is to judge and criticize others.
He did his best to improve himself,
always reminding himself to look at the positive aspects of others
and insistently talking about “the good things
I know about people”.
This eventually led to his great successes in diplomacy.
Lincoln and Franklin both discovered that one of the keys
to success is affirming the worth of others.
They understand the great power of the “double win” principle
– that when we show respect for others,
we automatically elevate ourselves to their level.
The greatest ability of all possibilities
When I teach psychology courses,
I often recommend simple activities,
yet one of the most effective teaching skills.
I arranged the tables and chairs in a semicircle
and placed a chair opposite the arc,
named the “master chair”,
where each student had to take turns sitting.
First, the student sitting in the “master chair” will tell everyone that
“I have something good”.
Obviously, this is not easy,
but it is a very important part of the lesson about asserting the worth of others.
I also want my students to learn self-affirmation
to be able to see their positive traits and habits.
Usually it takes them about 2 minutes to do this first part.
They also have a hard time practicing the skill of telling others
what they like about themselves.
In the second part,
students sitting in a semicircular row of tables
and chairs point out to the person sitting in the “master chair” what he
or she fails to mention.
The only rule is that the comments are not aimed at physical beauty
The person sitting in the “master chair” will
then listen to the praises of others about him.
After class that day,
the students’ faces were still bright.
They told how great they felt they were;
they not only get to hear good things about themselves,
but also learn more about what to do.
Seeing the good in themselves encouraged them to live better,
strengthening and increasing their confidence and self-esteem.
The students found that:
* We need to get into the habit of finding the good, the good in others.
* Constructive feedback is more effective than destroying people’s confidence.
* Nothing is happier than hearing other people honestly praise you.
* We all need the recognition and encouragement of others.
* I feel happy when I make others happy and happy.
“We do not lose anything by using good words,
but on the contrary,
we also gain many other valuable things.”- Blaise Pascal