Studies have shown that students outperformed their peers when the teachers who were told they had gifted students in their class, but in reality the students were average. The words, actions, and expectations of the teachers towards the "gifted" students caused them to blossom.
A wise proverb says:
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Another friend shared of his high school football experience. There were eleven players for their nine-man team. The year before, the away team arrived in two buses of players and relentlessly defeated them sixty something to nothing. This year they traveled to face the team that not only beat them, they humiliated them.
His coach spoke words of confidence and inspiration to his team which consisted of most of the same eleven from the year before. My friend shared that the coach could have told him to eat a 2x4 and he would have. His coach's words were so compelling and transforming.
I left that conversation impacted that words can have such revitalizing results.
What to say when you need to correct:
1. Correct privately.
2. Address the issue specifically. "You missed the deadline by three days."
3. Give hope. "Here is what needs to happen next time and I believe you can do it."
4. Speak clear instructions.
1. Praise publicly.
2. Be specific. "That was a job well done because ....."
3. Reward in a tangible manner - a card, coffee, public recognition, etc.
4. Follow up with a short hand-written note that can carry the message even longer.
Final note: the inspired underdog team won!