When Does Encouraging Become Pushing?
Facilitator Tips Episode 58

What’s the Difference between Encouraging & Pushing?


This week’s Facilitator Tips episode tackles one of the most common questions I get from training participants – when does encouraging become pushing too far?


<< Go to Episode 57   Go to Episode 59 >>


Naturally, when dealing with dynamic human beings, there is a lot of grey area on this topic. If the distinction was as simple as black and white, then we’d get it right every time.

But knowing when to encourage or to push is clearly a very difficult leadership task. While every case is different, this episode shares a few guidelines that I believe will help you make better decisions.

Click the play button above to hear my thoughts about the difference between encouraging and pushing.


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Video Transcript


Hi there and welcome to Episode 58 of the Facilitator Tips video series.

My name is Mark Collard, I’m an experiential trainer and author, and in this episode, I want to focus on this really big curly question, the distinction or the difference between pushing and encouraging.

Now I’ve spent a career, 30 years or more, of involving people in a series of challenges. And this question comes up a lot. At what point do we cross the line between encouraging someone and pushing them into something that perhaps they don’t want to be a part of.

So in this episode I wanted to share with you a few thoughts, a few guidelines, that helps me make, I hope, the most effective decision at that point in time. But first, let’s just have a look at what the definition of each of those two words is.

When you look at pushing, this is when there’s an external force greater than what exists. That is considered to be a push, where there’s some form of force applied to a particular object. So that’s an external force. But encouragement is the offering of both mental and emotional support. That’s what encouraging is.

So let’s just be clear about the distinction between the two, and at what point does our emotional and mental support cross over to applying a form of force onto our participants.

The first thing is I look at time. Generally speaking, when I’ve got lots of time, I’m more willing to consider maybe I’ll just encourage at this point rather than try to push too much. Because there may be an opportunity because there is more time for that person to give it another go, to extend their comfort zones a little bit further into their stretch zone.

Naturally, if you’ve only got a short program it becomes a more difficult distinction to make, at what point do you push or do you encourage. But if you’ve got more time, if you’ve got the luxury of time, sit on the side of encouraging hoping that there’s more time later on for that person to take on that challenge.

This is a really important question. Who’s it for? Why would you be encouraging or forcing? Is it about you? Are you doing it because of you, that is there’s some success criteria as the reason you want them to do it, or are you doing it for them? If you can really deeply understand why are you encouraging or pushing then it will help you make a better decision about what you should be doing in that particular moment.

So who’s it for? I would argue it should always be about them, less about you, to consider is it a push, is it an encouragement.

You need to acknowledge when in doubt be human. Everyone is different. In the same situation with a particular challenge, one person may respond really well to a push, where someone else only needs encouragement and maybe chooses not to do it. So you do need to pick your moments. The more you can learn about your group, the more you can invest in connecting with your group, the more likely you’ll make a better decision.

And then finally, even though I mentioned about time before, generally speaking, all things being equal, err on the side of challenge. Err on the side of challenge.

That is choose to challenge someone, hopefully still within the context of encouragement. Ask someone to err on the side of challenging themselves, to step outside of their comfort zone.

Look, I have no empirical science to back this up. Maybe it is out there. But my gut feeling is that there are greater risks involved in not involving people into a challenge or inviting them into that space than it is if we choose not to. So when we do too much sometimes we consider that to be too risky, but I think it’s actually quite the opposite. When we choose not to invite people into that space there could be greater risks involved as well.

Here’s my last-minute tip. What do you think? When do you think you can go too far from encouraging or pushing?

If you’d like to leave a comment, do so in the show notes. To find that, go to www.playmeo.com Episode 58. Otherwise, I’ll look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye for now.


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