As freelancers, we like to think of ourselves as being independent professionals who are pretty much able to get by totally on our own. We don’t really need help or feedback from others because, after all, we’re supposed to be beyond needing that.
At least, I sometimes think of myself that way.
I can personally testify, however, that receiving personal praise can make a tremendous difference in a freelancer’s outlook.
Today, I was fortunate enough to receive some kind words from a freelancing colleague that I respect and it has certainly brightened my outlook.
In fact, if I’m totally honest, I can still remember the first time that encouragement made a difference in my life. I was about ten years old. I was talking to a playmate, another girl in my school who I really admired. With wisdom well beyond her years, she said this to me:
Laura, I think that you could do anything if you really put your mind to it.
Her words instantly changed my outlook then, but they have also obviously made a long-term impact on me.
It has been decades since my playmate said those words and I still remember them. In fact, I’ve integrated her words into my own personality. Partially because of her praise, I am bold enough to constantly try new things because I know that I can do it.
Let’s take a look at the importance of encouragement to freelancers.
When Encouragement Helps
Encouragement is particularly helpful when three circumstances occur:
- Someone who we respect delivers the encouragement. Everyone has someone that they look up to. Hearing that particular person say that you’ve done a good job can provide a tremendous boost to any freelancer’s self-esteem.
- The encouragement is sincerely given. You can always tell when someone means what they’ve said, and there’s nothing better than receiving a heartfelt statement of appreciation.
- The encouragement comes during a time when we really need to hear it. Every freelancer goes through some times that are more challenging than others. These are the times when encouragement can really make a difference.
When Encouragement Doesn’t Help
There are times when encouragement isn’t helpful, though. I’m sure everyone has reserved their share of so-called “encouragement” that actually made them feel worse.
Here are three times when encouragement doesn’t help:
- When someone who you don’t respect delivers it. The truth is, some people’s feedback means a lot more than others.
- When it’s not sincerely given. No one likes to receive praise when they know that the speaker doesn’t actually mean what they are saying. In fact, false encouragement can actually have the affect of discouraging, rather than encouraging.
- When you don’t really believe that it is true. This is not a problem with the encourager, but rather with the freelancer receiving the encouragement. Yet, a surprising number of us have trouble hearing positive things about ourselves.
How To Get The Most of Encouragement
I’m often not as receptive to encouragement as I should be. Sadly, sometimes I have trouble accepting it, even when it is deserved.
Here are three ways to make the most of encouragement that you do receive:
- Accept genuine encouragement graciously. Even if you feel awkward when you are receiving it, often you can look back and realize that the encouragement provided valuable feedback about what went right that you can use in the future.
- Keep a file of encouragement that you have received for future reference. You can turn to this file to remind yourself that your work is valued when you face a particularly difficult or challenging project.
- Make the most of praise from a business perspective. If someone has praised you, then they may be satisfied enough with your work that they are welling to provide a testimonial or serve as a reference for your business. Why not ask them?
How To Be An Encourager
One of the best ways to enhance your relationship with others is to become an encourager yourself. People like to be around and associate with positive people. Here are three ways that you can encourage others:
- Look for the positive in those around you and when you find it express it freely.
- Always, always be sincere in your compliments and praise of others.
- Don’t forget to thank others when they have done something that you value.
Has encouragement made a difference in your freelancing career? If so, why not share how? :)
About the author: Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 18 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts.