Does The Support of Others Improve Our Chances of Accomplishing Our Goals?

Surprisingly, this statement appears to be false.

There is some research on how team goals facilitate team performance. However, until recently, we knew very little about whether others help or hinder our individual chances of meeting a goal.


Generally, whether it’s reaching a weight loss goal, successfully completing an undergraduate course, or completing a work task, help and support from others actually appears to hinder our chances and make us feel worse rather than better.


Why? First, research has found that help is often, well, unhelpful. Advice and direction from others is seldom well suited for accomplishing our goal. If you’re trying to meet a work deadline using your approach, it’s not often useful for a coworker to advise you to use his/her method instead.  Second, such advice and assistance generally makes us feel less confident and positive about achieving the goal.  The more help is offered, the more negative feelings and stress we have about the goal.


The upshot? Generally, you’ll do a better job of meeting your individual work goals if you “just do it” by yourself. Of course, sometimes you do need the help of others. But keep that help focused on specific questions and not on advice for attaining the general goal.


Source: H. B. Kappes and P. E. Shrout, “When Goal Sharing Produces Support That Is Not Caring,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 37, No. 5 (2011), pp. 662-673; P. E. Shrout, N. Bolger, M. Iida, C. Burke, M. E. Gleason, and S. P. Lane, “The Effects of Daily Support Transactions During Acute Stress: Results from a Diary Study of Bar Exam Preparation,” In K. Sullivan and J. Davila (Eds.), Support Processes in Intimate Relationships (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 175-199.<endnoteref linkend=”ch07en10″ label=”10″/></para></sidebar>

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