All the pictures that I download for use on my site, that I get in the VA 101 Mastermind group, and other stuff I pick up from social media, I keep in a folder on my USB drive called “Pithy Signs.” In my laptop settings, I have a slideshow of these images set up as my desktop background. The other day, the one shown below came up, and behold, a blog post was born.

It’s easy to be a skeptic, or even a cynic these days. But the world needs more encouragers. So how do you be an encourager? Here are three simple ways.

Assume the best. As we all know, there’s a lot of nastiness out there on the interwebs. A lot of it is because when we interact with people and see/hear something that goes against what’s in our own minds, we tend to automatically assume the party that expressed said difference is up to no good. We automatically assume the worst in people. Bear with me while I go Biblical for a minute. In Romans 15:14, the Apostle Paul says, “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” Keep in mind this is at the end of the letter. He had spent many pages prior to this giving instruction and correcting behaviors and misconceptions. Yet his assumption of the Christians in Rome was that they were full of goodness. Whatever religion you are, you should be able to see how this applies in all areas of life. Don’t assume people are evil. Try to assume the best intentions. If they are evil and/or have bad intentions, you will find out in time. Just don’t start from that assumption. Be a friend to people. 

Support people. This is pretty straightforward. When you see someone trying to do some good, back them up. Someone is trying to help homeless people in your area? Join their effort, share their social media post, recruit others to join. If you’re in online groups in your industry, ask and answer questions in group interactions, and for heaven’s sake, don’t spam everyone. (Many groups have rules against this, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying.)

Keep on topic. What is more annoying than being in a discussion that’s going well, then someone hijacks it and starts talking about something else that’s barely related to the topic, or not related at all? Well, OK, finger nails on a chalkboard is more annoying. But other than that, not much is. “Yeah, these tips for keeping your personal information secure are good. And speaking of online security, I’ve got a great deal on my website building package.” Uh, no dude, we’re not hawking stuff here, we’re just talking about making sure sensitive information doesn’t end up all over the interwebs. Stick to the subject.

Have you noticed the subliminal message? Assume the best, Support, Keep on task… if something doesn’t seem right, ASK questions. Too often we see or hear something and we’re unsure of the meaning, and we just keep it in and fill in the blanks ourselves, usually with poor information. Going in the other direction, if you are presenting information and others ask you questions, simply answer them. If they are obviously trying to stir up trouble, just give factual information and keep it moving. But otherwise, just stay in the expectation that questioners are just seeking additional information.

In particular, if you are a business owner and realize your need for a Virtual Assistant and you begin interacting with VAs, there should be a good number of questions being asked on both sides. The more information you have up front, the less chance for confusion later.

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