It’s never easy to find the right words to say. Whether
a friend is stressing over a family hardship or experiencing a bad break up, it’s
a pretty tough job to make someone feel better. But you’re not alone. A lot of girls
struggle with finding the perfect thing to say. From feeling like an idiot because
you said the wrong thing, to not saying anything at all, it can be difficult to
have the proper response.
Here are some examples you may relate to:
"I remember feeling so horrible when Amy told me her brother
was in a car accident," recalls Jessica. "I so badly wanted to say the right thing
to comfort my friend but instead, I just stood there like an idiot.”
“The first words out of my mouth when Nicole said her
parents were getting a divorce were all wrong," remembers Stephanie.
“When Ashley and her boyfriend broke-up, I said something
like, “you're probably better off without him.” Michelle recalls her friend just
staring at her in disbelief. She wanted to hide.
"The first time I saw my Aunt Linda after I found out
she had breast cancer, I said, 'Gee, you look so good,'" sighs Rebecca, "as if cancer
were a looks enhancer or something. I should have just hugged her."
It happens to the most articulate and caring among us.
Just when we want to comfort a friend we really care about, words fail. Or, we feel
unprepared, unsure about what to say and instead of honestly acknowledging that
we feel pressured to somehow make things right, we offer a solution instead of just
listening. Too often our quick responses can cause more pain to the person we're
trying to help. We have to learn how to listen better so we come up with the appropriate
response, which can sometimes simply be a hug.
How to Comfort a Friend
— What to Do
Good advice for most situations is to put yourself
in the other person's place. How would you feel and what would you want others to
say to you? Psychologists call this “empathy.” What would make you feel better?
Most times a kind smile, a warm hug and simply saying, "I'm sorry, I feel for you,"
will do the trick. Even just asking to go for a walk together, with no agenda other
than to spend quiet time, can be helpful.
How To Comfort a friend — Comforting Words to Say
"If you ever
want to talk about this, please let me know."
"Whatever it is you need, a joke, a favor, or a hug, I'm
here." "I spoke to
my mom. She wants you to know she's available if you need to talk to an adult."
"I'm so very
sorry you have to go through this. This is new for both of us. Help me help you.
Tell me what I can do." "If you need to be alone right now, I understand. When that
changes, just call...anytime." "You're one of my best friends. I care about you so much
and feel so helpless to make you feel better. Please let me know if there’s anything
I can do to help.”
How to Comfort a Friend
— What Not to Do
If you haven't lived through
whatever trauma your friend is experiencing, don't try to offer advice. Your friend
needs to be listened to and have her pain acknowledged more than she needs to hear
your words of wisdom. Even if you've been in a similar situation, never say, "I
know how you feel." Everyone experiences a crisis in his or her own unique way.
Don't feel compelled to be cheery to try to comfort a
friend. This is not a time for compliments or empty reassurances, especially if
you have no way of knowing what the outcome might be.
Don't put your recovery timetable on someone else to try
to comfort a friend. Just because you think someone should be back to themselves,
whether it's after breaking up with a boyfriend or the death of a loved one, comments
like, "It's time to get over it already," can be hurtful and won't help comfort
a friend. It's not your place to say that.
Never enforce your views on someone else when you comfort
a friend. Never judge. There's no way for you to know what they feel in their hearts
and just how hurt they may really be at this time.
Don't ignore what the person has gone through and immediately
change the topic whenever your friend comes in the room. If someone died, mention
a fond memory. If someone is ill, express how you hope they have a speedy recovery.
Remember that every situation is different. The best thing
to do is to listen and continue to learn how to be a good friend to those in need
Learn how to comfort a friend and read helpful tips and advice at BeingGirl.com.