The Power of Affirmation

As Rachelle moves into toddlerhood (she has turned 14 months today!), we have observed that her curiosity towards the environment and new objects is starting to expand exponentially. I wonder whom she takes after... *winks*


   Check out my cute poses!


Check out my cute poses!


In the midst of trying to cope with the daily hustle and bustle of looking after my girl, I became aware that there are some parenting lessons that are applicable to corporate scenarios. At a recent CNY house visit, Rachelle was pointing out to a painting and she started calling out “Bird! Bird!”. At that very instant, some relatives swiftly corrected her and insisted that they were fishes instead. Immediately, the expression on Rachelle’s face tells me that she is confused. She began to make her point again that what she saw were birds. This little “tug-of-war” went on a few rounds until she became exasperated and decided to keep quiet and turn her attention away to something else instead.


From an adult’s perspective, a fish is a fish and a bird is a bird, there is no two ways about it. However, taking the stand of a learning child, maybe there is some truth what she has observed. Well, after putting on her lenses, with a bit of imagination and empathy, I realised that the fish does look like a bird to some extent!


So instead of insisting that she is wrong, I decided to affirm Rachelle by telling her that she is very quick to associate an animal she has been familiar with (the birds) to what she saw in the painting.  I also explained to her the which are the areas of similarity which could have led to her conclusion:


1) The fishes has fins and it looked like the wings of a bird.

2) The painting illustrates fishes swimming in an upstream direction and it does look like birds soaring into the sky.


After I shared with Rachelle that her observation was valid and affirmed her abilities, she started to smile and her eyes began to sparkle. I believe this was the effect of affirmation and putting in some effort to understand her perspective. 


As we reflect on this incident, most of us may think that it actually requires some effort to do this and we may also believe that there is no need for us to apply this principle to our family or work situations since we are all adults. Before we dismiss the importance of affirming adults, I would like to present this point to you:” Adults are no different from children, we are human beings too!” This implies that we require the same amount of attention, empathy and love from our colleagues, friends and family.


I realised that if businesses were to practice this principle of affirmation and encouragement, it would begin to result in the creation of a more encouraging and trusting environment, which eventually results in better performances and lower staff turnover.


Every human being is created to view the world and every situation differently. There is a powerful outcome awaiting those leaders who have the ability to listen empathetically and is willing to draw out precious ideas and abilities from their co-workers. How about trying this the next time your colleague shares an idea with you? Take a step back, listen and follow their train of thoughts!


Wishing all of you a Happy Lunar New Year! Have a blessed and abundant year ahead!

Sam Hoong