Your words matter.
The way we give feedback, lead meetings, or speak to our teams or colleagues matters. In reading Self-Regulated Learning for Academic Success: How do I help students manage their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions? several selected quotes throughout the book show how impactful or unimpactful our words are and how inspiring or uninspiring they can be.
"Praise is a mixed bag. Although it can increase students' self-efficacy and their expectations of future success, it can also lead them to feel helpless in the face of challenges if their self-worth is tied too closely to being praised." -page 11
Acknowledge effort over result. Don't discuss things outside of their control. Use words that make improvement seem possible.
Be specific with your praise. Identify why they're being praised. Don't use praise as a consolation for disappointment, or because you feel obligated to. Use words for a purpose.
Don't make them reliant on your approval or input. They need to be able to self-diagnose their own problems and solutions. The goal is always to grow and get better; it's not to receive kudos. Use words that promote dialogue.
Visualize later now. Talk about how the praiseworthy incident can be replicated elsewhere. Use words that make connections and promote transfer.
"When a child learns to associate task outcomes with the effort invested,he's more likely to attribute failure to a lack of effort and to adopt new strategies and work harder until he succeeds." -page 11
Acknowledge effort over result. People have to believe their efforts matter or else you won't be able to keep them motivated to embrace the challenge. Use words that will inspire more effort.
Focus on what's controllable. Don't waste time with things that can't be changed or that have already happened. I once spent an entire coaching season blaming our losses on 2 guys who had quit the team earlier in the season. What a blunder, and a waste of energy and time. I shouldn't have used words that caused people to dwell on things they couldn't control.
Action plans have to be achievable. Set them up for quick wins. Don't aim for a target that can't be placed or can't be achieved. Use words that can be realized.
Tell stories of your own failures leading to growth. Empathize with how hard it is to keep getting better. Use words that make it seem possible.
"...teachers can do a lot to further students' self-regulation by creating a warm and supportive social climate, providing collaborative learning opportunities, and giving feedback focused on the learning process rather than the learning outcomes." -page 19
Give them a tangible skill of focus. One improvement at a time. Use words that make it clear.
Include them in the planning and feedback process. Make it their plan and their result. Use words that get them to own it.
Create critical thinkers and decision makers. They need to be able to evaluate their own habits and ideas. Use words that cause them to reflect.
Don't waste time on things they already know. "Good job" or "you can do better than this" or "this is terrible" or "A" alone doesn't help anyone get better. We usually know when it didn't go we'll; tell us how we can improve. Use words that promote growth.
"...it can be difficult to remember that your verbal and written feedback should concentrate not in outcomes but on students' selection and use of learning processes and strategies. Doing this focuses students on what they can do to improve their work and gives them a sense of control over their academic success...." -page 26