Be An Encourager: Your Words Matter More Than You Know

Every one of us has more power than we realise. With just a few words, you can build or destroy someone else’s dream. Be an encourager, not a destroyer, of dreams.

We tend to pull the brakes on another person’s lofty ambitions. Almost without thinking, we warn that “it won’t work” or ask “are you sure you want to do this?” Be an encourager instead. When someone is willing to take the first step on the long journey to success, get out of the way and give them permission to try.

Why you need to be an encourager

1. Most people are insecure

Even the most confident and self-assured person has some self-doubt. Arrogant and boastful of people behave that way precisely because they have a strong need for the approval of self and others.

We don’t reveal our vulnerability in public. It shows its face in the privacy of the bedroom or bathroom, and we will never know how many tears have wet a person’s pillow in the dark of night because of disappointment and doubt.

2. Handle with care

Sometimes we treat our luggage better than we treat other people. We paste “Fragile” and “Handle With Care” stickers all over our bags. And yet people are the more precious cargo.

If you have ever collected luggage that was damaged on arrival, you will know how painful it is. We should feel the same pain at seeing someone else’s self-confidence being shattered by thoughtless words.

3. Cherish dreams

There are many who have forgotten how to dream big. The cares of life, burdens of family, demands of work, and myriad pressures have weighed them down. They trudge through life, barely able to wake up in the morning, looking forward to nothing, and go to bed with no sense of a day well-lived.

Yet among us are a few who still dare to dream. They have a vision of the future, an ideal to strive for, a reason to wake up in the morning. When you come across these precious few, cherish them. Cherish them because they are rare, and because they have made themselves vulnerable by putting their hearts on the line.

4. Protect and defend

I love the story of the boy from a poor family who had to submit his dream as a homework assignment. He submitted a blueprint for a 60-acre ranch, including a mansion and a row of stables. The teacher gave him an F because the plan was ‘unrealistic’. She also promised to give him a passing grade if he would re-submit a plan more suited to his family’s level of income. The boy gave this reply: “You can keep your F, and I’ll keep my dream.”

This boy is now a man, and his 60-acre Circle A Ranch is opened to young people who want to learn about self-esteem and self-motivation. His teacher has also been to visit. I’ll say it again – I love this story.

Not everyone has the guts of that little boy. You’ll never know whose dream you helped protect when they themselves wanted to give up. It takes so little from you, just a “keep going” or “you can do it”. Yet it could mean so much to them and to the countless others who will gain by their efforts.

Be an encourager whenever you can

Why do good sports teams have cheerleaders and a fan club? Even the best of us need encouragement. Talent is important, but the support of others pushes us to try harder, and bring out the talent that would otherwise remain latent.

You can decide that from today onwards, you will be a one-person cheerleading team. Whenever you see someone making an effort, offer a word or two to give him a boost. Cheer at the slightest sign of progress. Scream, shout and yell; or smile, nod and give a quiet thumbs up. Do whatever you are comfortable with. The actual words and actions don’t really matter. The other person will understand.

And if you cannot bring yourself to be an encourager, then at least get out of the way. Don’t be the obstacle in someone else’s path. Stand clear, and let them go where they will.

PS: A big Thank You

This post was partly inspired by all the visitors who left encouraging comments on this blog. All are people I have never met, yet they made the effort to encourage a month-old blog newbie writing at her desk late at night wondering if anyone will read what she writes. I am deeply humbled and gratified by this kindness of strangers.

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10 replies on “Be An Encourager: Your Words Matter More Than You Know”

Wow, Catalyst I am honoured that you check in here twice a day! Singapore is 12 hours ahead of Toronto, and I usually post late at night here, so you may be one of the first few to read my new posts… hot off the press! I’ve been reading some of your comments on the Pavlina forum and must say I like the way you think – what I would call wise.

I’ve never been to Toronto, and now have one more reason to go 🙂 And you must let me know if you come here to visit. Coffee on the house, of course.

Hi Daphne,

I visit your blog in the morning as I sip my coffee at work, then in the evening between my study break. Anyhow, never been to Singapore, but it’s on the to-do list 🙂 I had a friend move there for work, it sounds really nice. If you’re ever in Toronto…

Only just saw your reply today Daphne – thanks. I lived in Hong Kong for a while, and visited Singapore. So glad to hear that your blog has taken on a life of its own. I agree totally with Snigdha, that your posts are so thoughtful and well written – I too also love your pics!



Yes it’s spooky! I love Cape Town too, but if you’d bet me money I would have said your pic was taken in Cornwall. The likeness is amazing. I live in Singapore but studied in England and still visit my friends there sometimes. Glad you like the Love Like It’s Never Going To Hurt post and thanks again for Stumbling it.


I am touched that you are touched. I’m not a parent but have always had children in my life who were close to me. They’ve wanted to be bus drivers, Olympians and all sorts of things and I realise that if we just encourage them to do their best, they will become proficient at their current obsession and eventually move on to other dreams anyway.

Glad you like my blog. I started it because I had time on my hands and wanted to do something useful instead of sitting back and relaxing. So this was meant to occupy my spare moments, but somehow took on a life of its own. Now that I know good people like yourself and Nudgeme and others are actually reading the posts, there’s even more reason to post regularly and responsibly! Thank you for your support.

I m touched Daphne – you r not only preaching gratitude – actually displaying too. And regarding your blog being a new one , I am truly amazed how you have been maintaining the quantum of posts WITH REAL THOUGHTFUL posts so regularly , spiced with great visuals ( and apt ones !!). I know, your blog will be one of my favourites and wish you all the best in days to come !

I do not know if you r a parent . But trust me, your thoughts on GIVE OTHERS PERMISSION TO TRY echoed mine when I think of my journey with my own children as they grew up …( still growing up ). Not that easy to step out of the parental authority trap and genuinely trust your child especially when s/he says an emphatic NO to fall in line with the worldly wise !! But that is exactly what is needed – trust in your child, her ability to dream and to follow her heart – just support her and just let her be !! I have made an honest attempt and some success is surely visible – only time will tell if it has been really worthwhile or not – but I personally believe it will turn out to be my greatest satisfaction .

You have very aptly put it – encourage or just get out of their way without being an obstacle. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Thanks Daphne I’ll check out the post. I had to reply because of your reference to Cornwall – I’ve just returned from my annual, two week holiday there in North Cornwall and it’s one of my favourite places too where I’ve been going for years! My pic is actually taken in Cape Town, and I also particularly liked it as the place reminds me of Cornwall so your comment is almost spooky! Where are you based?

Have a great w/end.

Just came across your blog following a comment you made on Zen Habits about one of your goals being to ‘love like it’s never going to hurt’. I love that and wanted to tell you. Really like your blog and the message in this post about giving others permission to try, absolutely! I also checked out the personal development blogs list under your blog roll and found that really useful so thank you for that too.

All the very best with you blog – I look forward to reading more.

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