Everyone needs someone to lean on. Being the person that is that rock, that anchor, is an incredibly important privilege that has a lot of power. You can make a huge difference in someone’s life, even if the difference is just comfort. Being someone’s safe place, or someone that others go to for advice or guidance, is one of the most rewarding roles that you can take on. Supporting others helps everywhere. You can help your loved ones, your co-workers, and even the young people in your life.
What Does it Mean to be a Supportive Person?
Being a supportive person will mean something different to everyone. For some, simply being the person that you can go to for comfort without judgement is a great way to be supportive. For others, being a mentor is the best option. The truth is that, while personal preference will lend itself to your personal support preferences, you will need to know how to shift your approach depending on who is in front of you.
You won’t support your friend the same way you would a teen parent in your care. You wouldn’t support a co-worker the same way that you would your partner. To be a more supportive person you need to look at what the other person needs, and try to provide that to the best of your personal ability.
Knowing how to be more supportive is for everyone, but it is particularly for those who are in mentorship positions. If you are a thefca.co.uk parent-child foster parent, for example, you aren’t just giving those children a safe place to lay their head at night, but you are also mentoring the parent themselves.
How to Be a More Supportive Person
There are three main tips to help you be a more supportive person.
Know the Different Kinds of Support that You Can Offer
You cannot help everyone with everything. Know instead what type of support that you can offer (either personally, or legally) and be sure to refresh yourself often so that you don’t try to overdo yourself. You can always be there to listen, if you have the time. You can offer mentorship, if it’s in a field you know well. Know what you can offer, and when to say “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to help you.”
How to Understand What Type of Support a Person Needs
Knowing the person that you are talking to and understanding body language can help you assess what type of support another person needs, but it isn’t foolproof. If you are ever unsure, just ask. Sometimes people just want a shoulder to cry on and don’t want advice or guidance. Other times they are actively looking to you for help. Asking will help you cut through the murk and get right to how you can help best.
Be Mindful of Your Own Boundaries
Finally, know your boundaries, set your boundaries, and be mindful of your boundaries. Helping a friend through a tough time is a great thing to do, but if they push too far and your mental health starts to struggle because of it then you are not helping anyone, you have become a crutch. Know your boundaries and keep them so that you can be a support, not a lifeline, and you’ll be able to take better care of yourself and those around you.