Knowing what to say when a good friend shares unhappy information with you is among the most difficult issues in a friendship. You might not know what to do irrespective of how shut you’re with this good friend.

When somebody you care about is hurting, it’s pure to need them to really feel higher. If you’ve by no means skilled what they’re going via, you might really feel not sure about the easiest way to assist them. Even once you do perceive their scenario, you might understand that the problem your good friend faces is admittedly troublesome to beat.

If they’ve simply misplaced a beloved one, or somebody near them has fallen sick, it may be arduous to seek out the phrases that provide them consolation. Difficulties at work or the top of a relationship may go away you questioning the right way to cheer up your heartbroken good friend. There isn’t one approach to tackle an individual in a state of grief or frustration, however you possibly can develop some greatest practices for dealing with dangerous information.

Your Good Intentions Can Make Your Friend Feel Worse

When we’re oblivious about the easiest way to deal with a scenario, we reply to our unhappy associates in an inappropriate approach. Maybe we are saying the unsuitable factor, or we’re unintentionally insensitive to their emotions. Either approach, an inappropriate response can go away your good friend feeling sadder than earlier than you talked.

Most of us don’t exit of our approach to harm others. Even the very best intentions can go awry. When we don’t know what to say, we’ll grasp at straws and check out no matter involves thoughts to be able to soothe their discomfort. We’ve all achieved this, and most of us have had somebody with good intentions make us really feel worse. We need to assist our associates really feel higher so we will’t assist however do one or a few of these issues:

Changing the topic doesn’t assist.

When dialog shifts towards challenges, you may suppose that altering the topic will assist. In your thoughts, it’s an opportunity to your good friend to maneuver their consideration away from their damaging scenario to one thing they get pleasure from. Changing the topic to one thing trivial and unrelated might really feel good to you, nevertheless it received’t assist them. They couldn’t care much less about which films are in theaters now, or how a lot you want the brand new restaurant on the town.

This methodology is problematic as a result of your good friend wants and needs to be heard. They shared their troubles with you as a result of giving voice to their ache can reduce it. If you alter the topic, you deprive them of the possibility to do that. They find yourself feeling invalidated and rejected.

Giving constructive reassurance makes them extra damaging.

When your good friend involves you with troubles, it may be tempting to say issues like, “Everything can be okay,” or “You’re adequate.” You may consider what you’re saying, and it’s coming from a very good place, however generally that’s not what individuals want.

Your good friend may have to vent. They want to present their troubles some air time in order that they will transfer on. Your makes an attempt to be reassuring can come off as dismissive. Let them converse. Acknowledging that one thing is dangerous can truly encourage them to search for rational methods to manage.

Trying to “repair” the issue solely worsens it.

When you care about somebody, it’s troublesome to observe them endure. You may need to supply recommendations to assist your good friend get to the basis of the issue.

“If I have been you, I’d…” and, “It’s higher to…” are solely going to repair a lot. Just like altering the topic and providing constructive reassurance, this technique robs your good friend of the validation and understanding that they want. It looks like the extra you take care of them, the more severe this behavior turns into.

Offering unsolicited enter about how you’d do issues received’t make them really feel higher, and being a fixer will be exhausting for you.[1] When your good friend asks for recommendation, they’re inviting you to supply enter. Otherwise, keep away from telling them what they need to do.

Listen to Understand and Validate Your Friend’s Feelings

Above all, your good friend desires to be heard. Give them the present of listening patiently and authentically. Withhold your judgements, neglect about planning what you need to say subsequent, and maintain house for them. But don’t simply silently listening. What it is best to do is to observe energetic listening which entails the next steps:

1. Give them nonverbal reassurance.

Sitting silently received’t make your good friend really feel heard or validated. Stay engaged in what they’re saying, and supply body language that signifies that you simply hear them. Nodding your head and making eye contact will assist them really feel secure and can encourage them to let it out.

2. Speak with out fixing.

You don’t need to nod mutely, however ensure that your contributions to the dialog hold the concentrate on them. When you say issues like, “I hear you,” or “I do know I can’t really feel precisely how you are feeling, however I perceive it’s arduous for you,” you supply them the validation that they crave.

If you need to discover out extra about validating one other individual’s emotions, learn my different article Why Your Lover Doesn’t Want Your Advice, but Your Validation

3. Paraphrase the issue in your personal phrases.

If you merely repeat what they simply informed you with out synthesizing the knowledge, you’re parroting the issue again to them. Demonstrate that you’ve got been desirous about what they’ve been saying by placing the scenario into your personal phrases. For instance, “It doesn’t appear cheap that it’s a must to tackle additional duties when you have already got a lot to do,” sounds much more reassuring than, “You work an excessive amount of.”

To study extra about energetic listening, story a have a look at The Skill That Most People Don’t Have: Active Listening

All They Need Is a Listening Ear, Nothing Else

Knowing what to say and the right way to say it may be difficult. But in case your good friend is coming to you with their issues, it signifies that they belief you. Consider their confidence in you a present, and do your greatest to carry house for them as they work via no matter is occurring of their lives.

Above all, be an energetic listener and work to validate their emotions. Resist the urge to sort things, change the topic, or smother them with platitudes. A sort listening ear could also be all that your good friend must get via a troublesome time. Truly hear them, and also you’ll be amazed on the outcomes. When life throws you a curve-ball, they’ll do the identical for you.

Featured picture credit score: Corinne Kutz on Unsplash via


[1] Psychology Today: You can’t fix everything

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