When we believe in others more than they believe in themselves, we want to push them to become what we see in them. Our intentions are noble; our passion authentic.
The trouble is that children and adults alike are likely to perceive excessive urging as criticism and disappointment, which to some degree it is. Rather than responding with “Yes, you’re right. I can do this,” they are likely to think, “I am disappointing others again. I am never good enough.”
Pushing, even with good intentions, minimizes the importance of autonomy and inner motivation. Excessive pushing also tends to trigger resistance.
Encouraging words are more likely to be taken in and believed when they are spoken earnestly but without excessive force. It’s fine to say, “You can do it,” but it’s best to avoid bringing exaggerated heat and repetition to that encouragement. That which proves too much, proves nothing!
As Dean Rusk said, “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” The basis for any persuasion is understanding what motivates the other person. Inspiration comes from example and true friendship or at least a respectful relationship.
Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD