Comforting other people is something we do on a daily basis. No matter how serious the problems of our partners, relatives, friends, acquaintances or strangers are, we are supposed to react to them in some way. The majority of us really want to comfort other people especially while those are coming through a really tragic event. Yet, are all of us aware of the fact that inappropriate words, albeit told with exclusively good intentions, can make other people even more? Let’s look at such an ordinary thing as comforting other people from a new perspective and find out the best way to help those people.
The popular ways of comforting people you should try to avoid
Do you remember the last time you were comforting someone? What did you tell them? We really hope it wasn’t “Don’t worry”!
Telling a person who is in a difficult situation “Don’t worry” and other related expressions are actually the worst words you can chose for comforting someone. Even if the reaction of another person to them is pretty normal, the problem is, you can hardly comfort anyone by telling them “Don’t worry”. Why is it so?
In fact, when a person is trying to cope with negative emotions because something bad has happened to him or her, hearing such an expression automatically makes the whole event less important. When we are suggesting that a person just shouldn’t worry about something, we are showing him or her our attitude to this problem or our assessment of it which turns out to be not thus serious since you just can stop worrying about that.
Of course, we will hardly tell a person who has lost a close one not to worry, but we certainly use this phrase in many other situations starting from our friend losing a job or a toddler who can visit his or her friend. If we really want to comfort these people, we absolutely should forget about this expression as it simply disrespects their feelings.
Any time you are feeling the phrase “Don’t worry” is about to being pronounced, imagine that instead of a psychological breakdown these people are going through a physical trauma. While telling them not to worry which suggests that the problem actually doesn’t exist, will we able to do the same if we see a physical injury instead?
What can you do if you want to comfort someone?
Now, when you know what you shouldn’t do when you are trying to comfort other people, it’s time to check the alternatives which will surely work better.
Let them know you are always ready to listen to them
Actually, in many cases people going through a difficult time are not necessarily expecting us to access their problems and give them some solutions. Usually, they just need our support which can be as simple as listening to them without commenting and, of course, without criticising.
Thus, if you happen to be with a sad person, show him or her that you are really willing to listen to them. The best way to do it is focusing on your conversation, not letting yourself to be distract by the surroundings and not checking the time. Note that a person might not be ready to speak, even though he or she really needs your support. Then, you shouldn’t push this person to talk. Just tell him or her that whenever they would like to share their feelings with you, you are here for them.
Let them know that their feelings are a natural reaction to their situation
Quite often we get into a situation in which a close person is unwilling to show his or her emotion but it is quite obvious on is going through a difficult situation. Rather than trying to make this person laugh at all costs which actually might be interpreted as a lack of respect for their feelings, explain that having such emotions is normal to this person and that you are certainly not going to criticise him or her for anything.
This is especially crucial for people who are tend to hide their emotions for various reasons. Even if they believe their situation doesn’t deserve thus strong emotions, since they are experiencing these emotions, they will only benefit from sharing them with you.
Let them know you understand their feelings
Showing another person that you have a similar experience and due to that fact really understand him or her can help a lot in overcoming a difficult situation. When we know that we are not alone with our pain and we actually see someone who has solved this issue can bring us hope and make a huge difference.
Let this person know how much you understand him or her as you yourself have been in such a situation, but be very careful. First of all, make your best not to switch the attention to yourself too much, as the conversation is about another person in the first place. You can just mention your experience briefly and let the person decide for oneself, whether he or she needs to know more about that.
Another crucial fact is not making an emphasis on the fact that you have coped with a similar situation so there is no need worry. We have already discussed the harm which can be done by the “Don’t worry” phrase. Remember that you want other people to understand you really feel their emotions rather than find the situation not as serious as they are feeling it.