How to be Supportive

Are you the kind of person who, since youth, dreamed of finding someone who would support your dreams—and then found him or her?  Or was your parent or grandparent the kind of person who always had your back?  Or did you have a teacher who showered you with encouragement and love, like my Miss Crilly?  If so, then you know how delightful it feels to be supported.

And wouldn’t you love to be the person who provides that delicious support to others, the kind that is welcomed, well-received, and sincere?

Well, here are some tips,  based on The Positive Trait Thesaurus, on what makes for a supportive set of characteristics (their quoted material is in bold, extracted from the page titled “Supportive.”)

Encouraging the dreams and aspirations of others.

Doesn’t it make you burst with joy when someone “gets”—and encourages—your dreams?  If you love hearing about people’s dreams so that you can be their cheerleader, then you’re supportive.  And if you’re a dreamer, then surround yourself with supportive people.  And don’t forget to be your own cheerleader.  Supportive people encourage your dreams.

Using positivity to boost other people’s moods.

Don’t you love it when words you say makes someone feel good about themselves?  Recently, I saw a little pug dog, and he was so cute that I expressed affection for him.  Instantly, his tail wagged at supersonic speed and he almost skipped, he was so happy.  It was like he wasn’t used to compliments but desperately longed for them.  Making others feel good about themselves is the best part of being supportive.

Making people feel valued and important by commenting on their best qualities.

I know someone who makes everyone feel ultra special.  This person will walk into a room and say hello to an acquaintance like that acquaintance is the best treasure of a friend.  And you can just see how special this person is made to feel, especially in a room full of onlookers.  Supportive people make you feel good about yourself.

Offering kind words to those in need: You always make good choices, Tim.

When a person is in need, encouragement works wonders.  “You will get an A because you work hard.” “You will find a way because you are a problem-solver.” “You will achieve your dream.  I believe in you.” Kind words make for supportive and loving conversations.


Don’t you love the trustworthy person who pushes you to the top? Knowing someone truly has your back—and your best interests at heart—develops trust.  A sincere, trustworthy show of support can make all the difference.  Trust is a treasure to be cherished.

Avoiding criticism.

Criticism, even constructive criticism, is no fun to be around.  But doing the opposite—complimenting, praising, admiring—does so much more for relationship building.  I have a deeply empathic childhood friend who never criticizes me nor I her—and our shared love is incredible.  Supportive people avoid criticisms.

Cheering for people, no matter how small their successes.

Some people call up a parent, sibling, or friend whenever they have a win, however big or small.  And this friend showers the caller with praise and encouragement.  That’s an ideally supportive person: one who aims to bring you up in every interaction, one who celebrates your tiniest wins and your greatest achievements.

Best of all, supportive people are often surrounded by friends.  They make wonderful life partners.  And they, too, by the very nature of being supportive, can better achieve their own dreams.

To be that supportive person with everyone I encounter, especially those I love, is my goal.


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