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January 2, 2020

Helping Vs Supporting

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There’s value in being there for someone else. We know this because we all have experience, both, in sharing that value as well as in receiving it. This can take a few different forms, and it’s a relationship I want to explore with you today.

What is the difference between helping someone and supporting someone? And in what situations is one better applied than the other?

First, let’s look into the dictionary definitions. They both involve providing assistance to someone else, but the key difference is in how they do that. To Help is , “to provide assistance and make it easier for someone to do something by offering one’s services or resources, or to be of benefit to”.

To Support is, “to provide assistance by giving approval, comfort and encouragement, or being capable of sustaining”.

If you didn’t hear the difference, I’ll break it down here. When you help, you do so with a specific end in mind. There’s a desired measurable effect to achieve, and it’s through help you can make progress in working towards it. It’s also a little more transactional and time-bound by nature. With support, it’s more of a constant, enduring assistance that doesn’t really have a defined end goal or time frame. 

Knowing this now, how can we apply it? Well, we need to listen to the way it is being asked for. If someone mentions an end goal, offer to help get them there. If someone is looking for relief, then support is probably the better option. 

It requires a little reading between the lines, but if you want to be as effective as possible in giving someone the assistance they need, then identify you need to help or support.

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