affirmation 2

We presented two workshops during the family conference, one on “Affirmation”, the other on “Modular Approach to Composing Short Talks”. Here is a synopsis of the first.

The children’s rhyme goes “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Unfortunately that’s not true. I’ve counseled a fair number of people, and sadly some of them, even in their fifties and sixties, still remember the hurtful words they heard in their childhood from family and friends. We hear criticisms often, but encouragements are few and far in between. That’s why affirmations are so important, as they build people up, develop trust and confidence in the recipient, and build strong teams.

An affirmation is a validation, the act of confirming something to be true. There are two principles to observe in giving affirmations:

Principles of affirmation

Principles of affirmation

1. Don’t be critical or condemning; accentuate the positive.
2. Give honest, sincere affirmation, not flattery. The attitude in which affirmations or appreciations are given is important.

What do you do if you do not know the person well enough to affirm their positive character traits or conduct? Try active listening to discover his/her good aspects which you can affirm. The Chinese character for “listen” is made up of 6 components, which together indicate what is involved in active listening:

Active listening

Active listening

1. Ear, to hear what the person has to say,
2. King, which represents “me” (as most people consider themselves #1) or the mind, to think through what was said,
3. Ten, a complete number, meaning full attention,
4. Four, which resembles a pair of eyes, to see or observe,
5. One, to give undivided attention, to focus
6. Heart, to feel, to empathize.

If you actively listen as described above, you can discover the good qualities you can affirm. When all else fail, pray. Ask God to help you to be an encourager. It beats being a critic always trying to find fault with others but not themselves.

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