Well meaning friends and family members frequently don’t know what to say when a contestant doesn’t win. Their attempt to make them feel better is admirable. The disappointment can be very real and they hate to see you disappointed. So, they say all sorts of things like, “you should have won.” Unfortunately, pageants are subjective and not everyone can win. So what should you say instead? I recently asked just that on my Facebook page. Here are some of the answers along with my own.
I am so proud of you!
By being proud of what they accomplished, you are conveying that they did more than just enter. Be specific in how you are proud of them. Did they have an outstanding onstage answer? Has their modeling improved? Maybe you loved a pose they tried out new for this pageant. Simply getting out of their comfort zone is enough to be proud of. Tell them!
I loved when you…
Keep the focus positive. This is not the time to tell them all the things they did wrong. Choose one or two things they did well and let them know. Again, you can bring up their modeling or interview skills. Perhaps you caught a special moment when they encouraged another contestant. If you don’t want to use the word “loved” try something different “liked”, “saw” or “caught”. Let them know you were paying attention.
Great job! What are you most happy about your performance?
This one came from Rachel. What I love about this one is that you are letting them focus on the positive instead of offering your opinion. Encourage them to talk while you simply listen. This is not the time to offer suggestions or advice. Be careful not to negate what they say. That could have devastating consequences on their confidence.
You did your best
This one was suggested by several people. Acknowledge all the hard work that went into preparing for the pageant. Remind them of the hours spent practicing or searching for that perfect gown. Let them know that it all came together that night. They really brought it.
You are beautiful
I know that when I haven’t won, I begin to feel less than beautiful. For me, there is power in those words. To have my husband utter those words can lift my spirits. This will work from anyone, even a stranger. Go ahead and walk up to that contestant you don’t even know and tell them they are beautiful. It really will make a difference.
Your competing inspired me to _______
Anna suggested this as well as few others. This one is different from the rest because you are taking the focus off the contestant and putting it on yourself. This can relieve the stress of competing by showing them that they inspired you to try something new or different. Hopefully, they are encouraged by your comment and aspire to continue competing and being the role model they have become.
I can’t wait to see you compete again
Giving the contestant a future goal can help refocus them on future plans. Another variation is to ask them what their next goal is. By keeping the contestant future oriented, it will help them have something to look forward to. If they have no plans for competing again or have a next goal, that’s ok. Let them know that, too.
You improved so much!
What I love about this affirmation is that it really takes into account the work that the contestant did and that it actually paid off. You may begin by reminding them where they are coming from. “remember when…” Then follow up with what they did right and how it impressed you. Just don’t make the past sound too negative. Remember that, at that time, they did their best.
Say nothing, just listen
The contestant is exhausted and mentally drained after a pageant. Whether it’s a one day pageant or they have spent the last two weeks of their live devoted to all the events of the pageant, it is exhausting. They may not even want to say anything. Your presence and a hand on their shoulder or hug may be all they need right now. Just be willing to listen without giving feedback. Just let them talk.
I love you! ….Now, where are we going to eat?
This is my favorite response by my friend Derrick. It starts with affirming that no matter what, my love won’t change. Also, most contestants are starving at this point. Even if there isn’t a fitness aspect to the pageant, they may have focused on eating healthy. Many pageants don’t allow time to eat before the pageant or the contestant may be too nervous to eat. I always recommend planing a special meal after the pageant to allow a transition time from pageant to home. Let it be a celebration of them.
I hope these ideas will help you the next time you want to encourage a contestant. Telling them that they should have won is just not helpful. Try to keep them positive and discourage any gossip. Badmouthing anyone will lead to a poor mindset. Redirect them to the positive. Always let them know that you love them!