There’s an idea that the way to get people to do good work is to be tough on them, encourage them to be tough on themselves, require them to endure emotional pain, scold them for being fragile and vulnerable, and for admitting that things hurt them. Don’t whine, the advocates of this idea say. Don’t complain. It’s hard for everybody. Suck it up.
This is wrong. If somebody is experiencing pain there is a reason that person is experiencing pain. We as their encouragers — teachers, employers, teammates — want to know why they are experiencing pain. They shouldn’t be encouraged to lie about the pain to us or to ourselves.
Maybe the pain is based on a mistake — they are trying something too hard, or going about it the wrong way. Maybe the pain is because they have an internal battle — they think they believe in the goals they are working for but don’t entirely — they see problems or fear some consequences. In any case, to deny the pain is to close our eyes to information.
There is no need to be tough on people, to curse them or scold them. Learn what is difficult for them and help them address the difficulty, whether it’s a mistake — that can be dispelled by knowledge — or a the lingering effects of a trauma or an internal conflict.