Things You Should Avoid Saying to a Friend That’s Hurting. When it comes to friends, comforting them is part of the package. But what do you say to someone going through a rough patch? Find out what not to say.
We need to find a way of offering comfort without running the risk of offending and upsetting a friend even further
When it comes to friendships, we should always be there for the people we love when they need us most. A special article for jupsin.com.
Unfortunately, try as we may, it’s sometimes difficult to find the right choice of words, and even then, we risk saying something inappropriate.
Things You Should Avoid Saying to a Friend That’s Hurting
We need to find a way of offering comfort without running the risk of offending and upsetting a friend even further.
To make this process easier on you and your friend, we’ve compiled a list of things that should rather be left unsaid.
“Everything happens for a reason” (1)
Even if this is true, it’s not something that people want to hear.
They’re not looking to find reasons for their pain. Looking for reasons is time-consuming and something that they’ve probably already done.
They don’t need you to rehash everything that they’ve been through in an attempt to belittle their experience or judge their responses.
If you can’t think of something original and heartfelt to say, rather say nothing at all
Instead, they’re looking for someone to share their pain with. It sounds clichéd and as if you’re just saying something for the sake of it. It also implies that your friend isn’t smart enough to figure out why it happened in the first place. So now they’re hurt and feeling belittled, that’s not helpful, is it?
If you can’t think of something original and heartfelt to say, rather say nothing at all.
You may find that your friend would appreciate having someone to vent to rather than someone to rationalize with.
“If you think that’s bad…” (2)
It’s not a competition.
Even if you’ve been through something similar, your friend may be experiencing it in a very different way.
Another alternative to this is “it could’ve been worse”. Once again, not a competition.
Don’t minimize their problems, it makes you seem insensitive, and as if they are just overly emotional about nothing
Finding things “worse” than what your friend is going through is condescending and belittles their experience. For them, this is as bad as it gets, and it couldn’t be worse. Believe them when they tell you this, they know themselves better than anyone else.
Don’t minimize their problems, it makes you seem insensitive, and as if they are just overly emotional about nothing. Saying this will make your friend less inclined to lean on you in the future, and they’re less likely to share their emotional responses.
Keep the communication channels open and keep an eye out for visual clues. If your friend looks uncomfortable, you may have said something you shouldn’t have, and it may be worth circling back to a safe topic of discussion.
“I went through the same thing…” (3)
This once again relates to it not being a competition.
It also makes it seem like you’re trying to make it all about you, which isn’t what they’re looking for during their time of need. They’re looking for someone to listen to what they have to say and understand that they’re hurting. They’ve been through a tough time and need the support of a friend to get through it.
If you were in your friend’s position, how would you want people to react?
You are two different people, which means that you’re experiencing it differently, and it’s not fair to compare difficulties. Let them have their moment of sadness to cope with what they’ve gone through; you would want the same if the roles were reversed.
A good rule of thumb is to think about role reversal.
If you were in your friend’s position, how would you want people to react? Think of this and pair it with your friend’s personality, and you have a good guideline of what to say to them.
“Don’t be sad” (4)
Don’t tell them how to feel, it’s incredibly frustrating and doesn’t make anyone feel better. And, if it was that simple, they wouldn’t be overcome with emotions, would they?
Telling someone how to feel—or how not to feel—invalidates their emotions and may seem like you’re making light of a situation. This is even worse if the person suffers from depression, as this is caused by an involuntary chemical imbalance in the brain, not a choice between being happy or sad.
Let them process their feelings the way they see fit and give them the freedom to express themselves
Let them process their feelings the way they see fit and give them the freedom to express themselves. They’re feeling this way for a reason. Plus, suppressing emotions never ends well as they need to be released at some point.
Rather take note of their emotions and give them an outlet to express themselves. If needs be, find a physical activity for them to channel their emotions through. Whatever you do, don’t force them into talking about something they’re not ready to, just because you feel like they should move on.
“I’ll do anything to help” (5)
First, you’re assuming that you can help, which is bold, and secondly “anything” may not be possible. You don’t want to offer a false sense of security or make an insincere promise.
Rather make a promise to be there for them when they need you, and to do whatever you can to help. This is far more realistic and won’t put added strain on a situation.
Offer to do something special for the two of you or allow them to ask you for something when they need it most
An emotional person may not be rational, and if you’re making empty promises, they may feel let down when their expectations are not met.
If there is something you can do to assist, such as calling on a bullying lawyer if they’re being bullied or making an appointment with a healthcare professional, make sure you follow through.
Alternatively, offer to do something special for the two of you or allow them to ask you for something when they need it most. This will show you care and are invested in their well-being.
Less Is More
Sometimes, just listening is the only thing someone is looking for.
Give them the chance to get it all off of their chest, you don’t need to provide constructive feedback after each sentence.
Stop focusing on having something to say and instead take a step back and listen
Stop focusing on having something to say and instead take a step back and listen.
If they are looking for feedback, keep it simple and straight to the point. Refer back to what they said and show interest in what they’re sharing.
They need a caring friend during this time, not a trite auto-response with no real emotion behind it.