Support Your Team… Quietly – Kevin Ochsner – Harvard Business Review

Support Your Team… Quietly – Kevin Ochsner – Harvard Business Review.

A fascinating article on why we might embrace strategies to support employees that would focus on implicit support more than explicit support.

Specifically, the studies cited show that for people in stressful situations (studying for bar exams, giving an important speech), where people try to give support by giving advice (explicit support), this is less effective than implicit support forms.  These  forms of implicit support would include listening, telling the person that they have the situation under control and maybe indicating that the support person has been in similar situations and might be well-positioned to give support as requested.

Why is implicit support more effective – this goes back to the key ideas in Daniel Pink’s seminal book “Drive.” This kind of support leaves the person in the stressful situation autonomy to “fix” it as they see fit and thus more empowered.

“By conveying the belief that the person you’re coaching can cope with the situation, and offering yourself as an indirect example of how one can fail but find ways to succeed, you can communicate that they are competent while still imparting guidance. As a result, you can support their sense of self-control and lessen anxiety at the same time.


If you want to explicitly help others with their emotions, think twice about jumping in to fix their problems or telling them that you’re there to help. Look for ways to help people see for themselves that things will turn out ok, provide a shoulder to lean on when requested, and offer advice indirectly without calling attention to the fact that they seem to be buckling pressures of a tough day at the office.”

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