October 18, 2013
Thanks, Natasha Tracy, for another great guest post!
We all go through times when we need our friends. Friends, after all, aren’t just there to share the good times, but they are also there to support us through the bad times too. But when a friend is in need of your support, it can be difficult to know what to say. Here are five tips on what to say to a friend in need.
1. I’m listening.
One of the things that we all need is to do is talk about our troubles, and yes, maybe even vent about them. So for you, as a friend, it’s important to be there as a sounding board. It’s important that you make it clear that you’re open to just listening, non-judgementally, to whatever your friend is going through. For example, if your friend is having a hard time with his boss at work, the only thing he might need from you is a friendly ear.
2. I support you.
Telling your friend that you support him is critical so that he knows he’s not alone. For example, when a person goes through a divorce he can feel cut off from important supports, like friends, so ensuring the person knows he is not alone in his struggles can go a long way to helping him.
3. I care about you.
It may go without saying that we care about our friends, but in times of need, people need to hear this directly. Your friend may be feeling unloved, or may feel that you will stop caring about them because of what he is currently going through, so reminding him that you still care as much as you ever did can be very helpful.
4. Let’s tackle this together.
Sometimes a person is looking to you to find an answer to a problem in his life, and sometimes he’s not, that’s why it’s so important to listen first, before trying to find a solution to the problem. But if you get to the point where the friend is willing to discuss solutions, remind him that you can face the problem together. Remind your friend that he is not alone in his struggle.
5. This too shall pass.
One thing that’s true in this world is that it’s always changing and that means that any struggle will not last forever. It’s important to take a step back, gain some perspective and let your friend know that things will get better with time. Make sure that when you do this, though, you are not dismissing or minimizing what your friend is going through. For example, grieving a death is a very real, painful process, but it does get better over time.
In the end, knowing what to say to your friend in need involves being open, supportive and non-judgemental. It involves saying the things that we all want to hear when times are tough. It involves respecting the vulnerability that our friend has shown by being open about his problem. And remember, handling this situation well will not only help your friend, but will likely strengthen the friendship for both of you as well.