The Power of Implicit Support

Showing compassion is a crucial and often overlooked skill for a coach or a manager. It turns out that research shows that it matters how you demonstrate that compassion.

A good way is to show implicit support.

According to research by Niall Bolger out of Columbia University it is more effective, and less threatening, if you are subtle to the point of undetectable in your efforts to demonstrate compassion.

Kevin Ochsner writes about this on his blog at the Harvard Business Review.  Direct support can actually be threatening, but help that comes indirectly or implicitly has tremendous benefits.

“Implicit support is invisible to the recipient and doesn’t call attention to the fact that you’re offering support. For example, you could indirectly offer advice to a coworker or employee by noting that you think they’re doing fine. But, you would also explain that were you in their situation, you might need help; then you would “think out loud” about what you would do in that situation. By contrast, managers who make it obvious that, “I’m here to help,” or lead off by saying, “let me tell you how to handle this,” tend to threaten self-esteem and autonomy by highlighting that their direct report is being evaluated negatively for performance.”

Consider how to use implicit support to further the success of those who you work with or coach.


implicit support



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