Positive Encouragement

Focus on the Good

Focusing on positive behaviors and attitudes can serve to improve and uplift people’s spirits. It can also help increase their motivation to persist in their efforts to live a fulfilling life.

It is important that group members are aware of problem situations and their causes, but your Group AR program should also focus on on solutions for those problems—ways of preventing or reducing communication hassles. 

Identify and Reinforce

Focusing on negative events and life’s problems leads to negative emotional experiences such as anxiety and/or depression. Focusing on positive aspects of events engenders hope and optimism.

During Group AR, morale can be boosted by focusing on what can be done to improve situations. This is in contrast to discussing problems without examining alternative solutions. Focusing on improvements and solutions is beneficial for both the group leader and the group members. 

Increase Positive Attitude Exercise

To engender a more optimistic outlook in group members, ask them what they have done to prevent or resolve communication challenges identified by the group. Then, if you have additional helpful information, that can be presented for discussion as well.

One can also ask each member to recount an incident from the preceding week in which they had a satisfying interaction with someone. Ask them why it was successful. You can also ask each person to state where communication is easiest for them (at home or at work) and why it is easier in that situation.

Helping group members anticipate possible difficulties in upcoming events and plan ways of preventing or resolving potential challenges is an excellent way to help people feel more in control of their situations and feel better about themselves. 

Self-Efficacy Exercise

Self-efficacy is the belief that one can do a particular thing. This could be informing others that one has a hearing loss or informing someone about what they need to do differently to be understood.

A sense of self-efficacy can be developed in two ways. One powerful method is providing an individual with the opportunity to perform the desired behavior. Role-playing in the group sessions can be an effective way to do this.

Another way people build self-efficacy is by observing others successfully doing something. Again, the other group members can build their own sense of efficacy by observing the role-plays.  

Power of Success

Success in itself is powerful reinforcement. Success builds strength by providing one the confidence to take risks and move ahead in one’s life. Asking someone to speak louder or slow down when talking is taking a risk. The person may refuse, become angry, or walk out. When people feel confident, they take risks and usually get good results. When people have a low self-confidence or feel inadequate, they are less likely to take those risks. They can continue to suffer the same types of problems over and over.

Focusing on the positives and providing opportunity for people to practice effective communication behaviors is an excellent way to help them build self-efficacy and self-esteem.

Must Reads

Seligman, M.E. (2002) Authentic Happiness. New York, Free Press

Kanfer, F. H. & Goldstein, A.P.(1991) Helping People Change. Boston, Allyn & Bacon