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  • Writer's pictureWarrick

One skill to instantly be a more supportive person

How to be more useful when helping other people find solutions

Hello fellow Protagonists,

Cast our minds back to school.

The teacher asks a question and by some miracle it is the only question we knew the answer to all day. We put our hand up thinking "me, me, me". It is the chance to show that we at least know some things, not just how to keep a Tamagotchi alive for longer than 3 days.

Other hands also go up in room, its a fucking contest now!

Staring into the teacher's eyes with a look of "You know we have this little understanding where you ask me first, right?".

The teacher gives you the mental nod of approval, and then goes on to ask Joe instead. Joe gives the same correct answer you were going to give. Joe gets the pat on the head and smugly faced, he returns to drawing on his Robot Wars pencil case.

All that can happen here is that the lesson moves on, or even better, you get asked if there is something you want to add, give the same answer, and look like you didn't have a clue and so plagiarised the shit out of Joe's answer.

We knew the answer, if only we were given the chance to prove it first.

It probably would have sounded better from us.

How am I meant to prove that I am smart now?

Give me the credit, SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Jerry, doesn’t it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.


This may feel like a long time ago and we have matured since then, my question to you is has things really changed as we have moved into adulthood?

We have an almost childlike wish to be the person who comes up with the best thought, cleverest answer or the winning idea - Julie Starr

This can be seen in many contexts and the obvious one that springs to mind would be the world of work. Who can climb onto the lifeless bodies of their co-workers to pop the flag in the ground to claim ownership of an idea or success.

We have all seen this.

The area that seems a little less obvious but more frequent would be when having conversations with our friends and family.

Someone is currently dealing with a problem, as we are all dealing with problems all of the time. They decide to air out this problem with us.

I mean, we are the person with the best advice and ideas so naturally this is why this happened... right?

Have a think about the last time this situations occurred.

What did you do?

  • Did you instantly try to offer opinions and advice?

  • Have you been through similar situations and discussed what you did?

  • Have you not been through this situation and still decided to discuss what you would do?

Is this not that dissimilar to the situation above back at school?

The need to give what we think is the best answer, to get the pat on the head.

When we look back at our own achievements and best decisions, who came up with those decisions? Was it other people or us? Exactly, it was us.

We will usually have the best answers to our own problems and the same can be said for the majority of people. We are the experts in our own lives.

This was a particularly difficult and vital lesson to learn when delivering offender rehabilitation programmes back in the day. Despite making decisions that have hurt people and put themselves in prison, they are still the masters of their own lives, situations and problems. They will still have their best solutions if you help them find them. This took a long time for some staff to get their head around.

Some staff assumed that because they had not been to prison, they were naturally better at problem solving and their advice was credible. That is a bold claim.

That is also assuming that they had been in the same situation as the person in prison, with the same influences and background. Not a chance.

The same then can be said about all of us.

If we truly want to be more supportive for those we care about, let them be the masters of their own lives. Instead of just giving non-requested opinions and advise, tease self-advice out of that person.

They will have their own answers and solutions. It might not turn out as the right solution in the end but at least they can own it. How many of our solutions are right first time?

Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of giving advice that makes a person's situation worse anyway. Basically turning yourself into a living advert for a PPI claim.

It is not always about finding and giving the right answer, or the best advise, or the winning idea.

Even when those we care for ask for our advise, this doesn't automatically mean we should always give it. Sometimes it is helpful and sometimes it is not.

Be that supportive person people are looking for.

GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun)


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