Supporting Others

Supporting Others

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends | Contributors: Yvette Gagnon | Published: April 6, 2023

Whether in the news, in private, or during work conversations, you’ll often hear others talk about supporting their customers, clients, a loved one, a friend, a neighbour, a cause dear to them, or even another country. The word “support” is widely used — meaning something different to everyone. Used in the context of supporting others, it’s a verb, meaning “to bear all or part of the weight of, hold up, give approval, encouragement” — to name just a few definitions. But when we think about how we support others, or even ourselves, what does that actually look like in our day-to-day lives? How do we, and how can we, support others – whether in business or privately? I believe it starts with the following three skills:

Speak less, listen more - Listening to someone lets them know you understand and can empathize with their struggle or situation. Practicing active listening can help you gain insight into the feelings behind the words. Focus on that one person and limit your distractions to let them know you care about what they're saying to you. You can also try reflecting key words you hear, instead of thinking of what to say next. This will help others feel heard and supported, as people are often not looking for solutions but instead just want to be understood.

Be Compassionate and Patient - In other words, showing concern for others and seeking to understand what the person is trying to say, without passing judgement based on your own biases and values. This is not always easy but crucial to others feeling supported at any given moment. People are often living through challenges we know nothing of, and how you respond to them can greatly impact a person’s overall sense of well-being. Being patient with someone and allowing them the time they need to complete a thought, action, or story is also a great way to show support.

Focus on Relationships - Building relationships with others takes time but can also happen relatively quickly when the other person feels valued and heard by you. Think of a situation where you had a problem or issue to deal with and the simple act of someone hearing your frustration or offering encouragement helped you through it. As a result, you likely then felt closer to that person, or more supportive of that business, knowing they’d taken the time to understand and support you through that moment, thus strengthening your relationship.

In dementia care, people often ask me how to support others when the person in question may not fully understand or have the capacity to understand what is being asked of them. The answer lies in the basic human need – which we all share – to feel valued, to be truly seen and heard. And when we extend this to others, no matter who is in front us, they will feel supported.

Yvette Gagnon is a Positive Approach to Care Consultant, Trainer, and a Certified Dementia Care Practitioner. She owns Comforting Companions, a service dedicated to the social and emotional wellbeing of others by providing dementia education, consulting, and companion care.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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