“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”
This quote promotes the importance of a valuable soft skill, supportiveness. Social support is often described as “the provision of assistance or comfort to others, typically to help them cope with biological, psychological, and social stressors. It may take the form of practical help (e.g., doing chores, offering advice), tangible support that involves giving money or other direct material assistance, and emotional support that allows the individual to feel valued, accepted, and understood”. Having a strong social support system gives people the strength to carry on when difficulties arise. But the benefits of social support do not stop there.
Research has shown that social support has a significant impact on one’s mental and physical health. High emotional support can protect us against stress, anxiety and depression, while improving heart health and immunity and helping us live longer. What can we do to become more emotionally supportive? We present to you 6 general steps in this direction.
Yes, you guessed right, this involves soft skills! Enhancing a selection of specific soft skills is key to cultivating one’s supportiveness.
- Empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share one’s feelings. Caring for another person’s feelings and thoughts is considered the ultimate expression of support.
- Active listening. Active listening involves listening with all senses. In other words, being fully concentrated on what is being said instead of just passively listening to a message.
- Inclusivity. A crucial part of supportiveness is listening without judgment. People usually feel supported when someone is listening with kindness and open lens.
- Positive attitude. Offering compassion and reassurance in times of need can be all it takes for a person to feel supported and loved. Having a positive support system can influence us to become more positive ourselves, too.
- Resilience. Resilience is described as one’s capability to quickly recover when difficulties occur. According to the American Psychological Association, the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Therefore, by being resilient in times of stress, you can better support those around you.
- Communication. A soft skill often taken for granted. Good communication skills are expressed by asking the right questions, like being eager to know the other person’s needs.
Now that you got a taste of what supportiveness really means, it is up to you to make a change. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said:
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”