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How to Provide Proactive and Effective Support


How to Provide Proactive and Effective Support

Greg Hennessy shares an article on how to best provide support for friends and colleagues. 

If you are anything like me, you do your best to support your family, friends, and colleagues in times of need or propel them to new heights in times of growth and opportunity. But with so many things to juggle in life, I occasionally find myself running on “autopilot” when I should be listening, learning, and shaping my support to the situation at hand. 

Like a basketball player’s favorite move when driving the lane or a preferred shortcut home from the office, a support routine can work most of the time. But when habitual behaviors fail to adapt to the needs of specific situations, they can cause more trouble than they resolve. The basketball player may commit a charging foul that makes the ESPN highlight reel or you may encounter a traffic jam far worse than if you had taken the long way home. And when our ways of aiding and advising others don’t work, without a alternative plan to fall back on, we often end up leaving our advisees to fend for themselves.

Fortunately, we can learn how to turn off the autopilot and consciously tailor our support to the circumstances at hand. By understanding the range of actions available, we can broaden the kind of support you provide. And knowing which options to call on in different situations is the key to being a superstar supporter.

Recently, psychology professors Brooke Feeney and Nancy Collins* presented a framework that cleanly summarizes the actions you can take to support others. While they and other researchers devote themselves to establishing the evidence for and against each option, those of us trying to help our friends and colleagues can already try them in our daily lives. Feeney and Collins list eight broad types of supportive actions, examples of which are:


Key points include:

  • Promote a positive emotional state
  • Challenge harsh self-evaluations and build self-esteem
  • Provide alternative rewards


Read the full article, Providing Support – Breaking Routine, on LinkedIn.