In my experience through working with youth and with people with mental illnesses (such as depression), I have discovered that support from a human being can go a very long way in creating positive changes.

This also applies to the workplace and at home. Support can be very uplifting in showing a person the possibilities that they may not be able to see by themselves.

In many of my speeches (be it in the corporate world or at schools), I have said “You can get more out of a person by lifting them up, than by putting them down”.

New York Times journalist, Tara Parker-Pope wrote in an article “In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speedy recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.”

So, here are my five simple steps on how to support someone (family, friend, colleague etc):

1. Listen – I am sure that you might have heard this before “You have two ears and one mouth. So listen more”. When people are in need of support, they do not need to be lectured at. They need to be listened to. “Listen, don’t lecture” is my motto when I am providing support to a person (be it in a professional capacity or in my personal life). The first step to active listening is to be present in that moment. Then acknowledge what the person is saying. Your goal should be to make the person feel that they are being listened to, and understood.

2. Empathise - here is something important to bear in mind at all times - support a person with a judgement free approach. This is something that I learnt in my career as a Life Coach. When you are supporting someone who is feeling down or going through a rough patch, come from a place of empathy, not sympathy. Sympathy can be dangerous because it has the potential to create a victim mentality in a person. Empathise with them by putting yourself in their position, and asking “How would I like to be treated if I were in their shoes right now?”

3. Empower – I was watching a YouTube video of motivational speaker Eric Thomas, who was speaking to a group of primary school kids. After the speech, he said to the principal of the school that he is not there to inspire or motivate the kids. He is there to empower them. Similarly, if you are providing support to a person who needs it (for whatever reason), focus on empowering them, instead of playing the role of a motivator. Motivation is a good thing, and so is inspiration. My belief is that empowerment is what is most needed by a person who is feeling down or going through a rough patch. So, you might be wondering “Exactly how do I empower someone?” One very simple empowerment exercise that I give to my Life Coaching clients or to school kids who are being bullied is this – “Make a list of your skills, talents, and abilities. Make this list (in writing) every single day, and read it aloud. Do this for thirty days straight.” When a person does that exercise, they are reminded of their uniqueness. You can empower others by highlighting their strengths and reminding them of their capabilities. I simply love a quote by Barbara Coloroso in which she said “The beauty of empowering others is that your own power is not diminished in the process.”

4. Enlighten – as I mentioned earlier, sometimes other people make us see possibilities that we may not be able to see by ourselves. Parents are often exceptionally good at doing this to their children. By enlightening a person to see possibilities, you give them another perspective on their situation, and you show them that there are options available to them. I remember when I was a kid, I watched a television show in which a Buddhist monk said to his pupil “There is always another option in every situation. You just have to find that option in your mind”. So, when someone is feeling down or is going through a rough patch, they can certainly benefit from being supported to find options available to them.

5. Encourage – this is where the rubber meets the road! I am talking about ‘taking action’. Encourage them to take action. If my coaching clients are hesitant to take action, I ask them “What is at stake here?” In other words, what depends on them, taking action or not taking action? Another question that they can ask themselves is “How can I use my existing skills, talents, and abilities to better my situation?” Or “What skills do I need to learn to better the situation?” Encouraging others to take action is integral because without taking action, all the earlier steps can be of no positive effect. Encourage them to take action so that they can experience the results of taking positive and productive action.

Now, I will emphatically say that if a person is going through mental health issues, please encourage them to seek professional help.

Quote: "It’s amazing how far you are willing to go when someone believes in you.”Katie Kacvinsky

I hope that I have given you a simple insight into supporting people who need your support.

Inspiring you towards your excellence,

Ron Prasad (Author, Speaker, Life Coach & Executive Coach)

PS: To order my book, please go to www.WelcomeToYourLifeBook.com. For $19.95, you get the book, thousands of dollars in bonus gifts from some of the best personal development experts in the world (such as Bob Proctor, Marci Shimoff, Dr Joe Rubino), and you get to give back to the community by supporting my charity! I appreciate your support.

Author's Bio: 

Ronny Prasad is the author of WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE - simple insights for your inspiration & empowerment (www.WelcomeToYourLifeBook.com). He is also an inspired speaker who empowers his audience with his enthusiasm and energy. His passion is inspiring and fulfilling lives, and sharing his insights with people around the world. He actively supports animal charities in many countries.