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Support Your Colleagues

It’s not always easy to have successful colleagues. While you struggle and reflect, it seems as if others get to celebrate accomplishment and victory. It can be hard to watch others get accolades you covet and it isn’t easy to sit on the sidelines and watch the parade, wishing it was for you.

Being anything other than happy for someone else when they succeed, can block you from achieving your own success.  While it may not attract success, it doesn’t attract anything good when you resent someone’s achievement.

Seeing what someone else can accomplish can mean that it’s possible for you as well. There is actually room at the top for many.

My Dad used to tell me that “everyone gets a turn” and he was right. I have learned that the good times don’t last and neither do the bad times.  While you may not get to see the pain and struggle that other people experience, it doesn’t mean that they don’t. Hunkering down during the bad times and reaching out to others for support will help you get through the challenges you face just as much as savoring the wins and giving credit to those who supported you on your way will sweeten the experience of accomplishment.

Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to stay in the ‘here and now’ and enjoy the present. So many people value the goal that they focus on the result and devalue the process. But long after the victory celebrations are over and the confetti has been swept up, people will remember what they learned, who was beside them, and the process involved. The route taken has incredible value and the smartest people I know are aware of it at the time they are going through it.


Do you have a hard time actively cheering others on? Here are some ways to encourage:

“You do a good job of….” People should be encouraged when they do not expect it, when they are not asking for it. It is possible to point out some useful act or contribution of everyone. Even a comment about something that may seem small and incidental could have a significant impact.

“You have improved in…” Growth and improvement are things we should expect from all. If any progress is noted, there is less chance of discouragement and person usually will continue to try.

 “Let us try it together.” People who think they have to do things perfectly often are afraid to attempt something new for fear of making mistakes or failing.

 “So you made a mistake; now what can you learn from it?”  There is nothing that can be done about what has happened, but a person can always do something about the future. Mistakes can teach a great deal, especially if people do not feel embarrassed or ashamed for erring.

 “You would like me to think that you can’t do it, but I think that you can.” This approach can be used when people say (or give the impression) that something is too difficult for them and they hesitate to even try. A person who tries and fails can be complimented for having the courage to try. One’s expectations should be consistent with the person’s ability and maturity.

 “Keep trying; don’t give up.” When someone is trying, but not meeting with much success, a comment like this can be helpful.

 “I’m sure you can straighten this out (solve this problem) but if you need any help, you know where you can find me.” Express confidence that others are able and will resolve their own conflicts, if given a chance.

 “I can understand how you feel (or why you think this way), but I’m sure you will be able to handle it.” Sympathizing with the other person seldom helps because it suggests that life has been unfair. Empathizing (understanding the situation) and believing in the person’s ability to adjust to it is of much greater help.


An optimistic rather than a rather than a pessimistic attitude and a proactive affirmation of the basic worth of another can help you become a better manager or colleague. Encouragement can help people to value their strengths rather than dwell on their mistakes, to challenge and change old patterns, and to have the courage to be imperfect.

I often work with executives and managers who struggle with giving support and encouragement to others. It can be one of the hardest things for a competitive professional to do – and one of the classiest.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 at 8:33 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.