When a friend is upset and seeks your support, it’s essential to ask them a simple question once it’s appropriate: “Do you want to talk about it? Do you want to get your mind off it and distract yourself, or are you expecting me to give you some suggestions to help you out?”
Asking, “Are we fixing, whinging, or distracting?” can be incredibly beneficial for an upset friend. I use it often, and people respond positively to it. This question establishes boundaries and fosters trust, allowing you to be there for them the way they need.
Sometimes, people simply need to vent. Begin by providing comfort and then follow up with, “Do you want advice, or do you want me just to listen?”
It’s crucial to validate the other person’s feelings and experiences. Even if you believe there’s an easy fix, prioritize acknowledging their emotions. Let them be heard and empathize with them. Validating their emotions is truly significant. Simple statements like “Yeah, that IS terrible,” “That does suck,” “I can definitely see why you’re angry,” or “You have a right to be frustrated” can work wonders in offering solace and emotional support during challenging moments.
At times, staying quiet is what’s needed. It saves you from saying something unsuited to the situation. You can also say, “I am at a loss for words,” which is still validating. It shows that you consider the issue as crucial as they do and are also genuinely stumped by it.
However, on other occasions, they may need to share their experiences with someone outside of the conflict. This allows them to express their thoughts and emotions, which can be cathartic and aid in processing their experiences. If they wish to shift their focus and be distracted from what’s bothering them, talk about your own day, share something funny you came across, or engage in a fun activity together.
Idea for Impact: Don’t assume they’re seeking a solution when someone vents. Avoid offering advice right away in an attempt to steer them away from discussing it.
People often want to vent, grumble, and unload their troubles, even momentarily. Listen patiently and without reproach, offering a compassionate ear.