Most people want to love and care for their friends properly, but we aren’t always taught from an early age how to support people the right way. We can think we’re being supportive, but in reality, we’re invalidating them or taking the focus away from their problem and making them feel like they can’t open up about things. It’s all about the language you use and how you back that language up. To learn how to properly support your friends, read on:
Be specific when you let them know you want to help them
Simply telling your friend that you would like to be there for them isn’t always enough. You need to be specific – can you make them lunch, or perhaps do an errand for them? They will feel like asking for help with anything is too much when they are struggling, so make it easy for them by telling them what you can do.
Don’t force your help on them
Your friend may genuinely not want or need your help, and that’s fine too. Don’t force your help on them if they don’t want it.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
Don’t offer help that you’re not sure you can definitely give them. Saying you will do something when you’re not sure could lead to you letting them down. Not only will they feel like you’re not really there for them, you’ll feel bad. Only make promises and offer to do things that you’re sure about.
Let them know you’re thinking of them
Let your friend know that you’re thinking of them in a simple way. Small, thoughtful gestures can go an awfully long way! You could send flowers, or even a card with a nice message. Even sending them a link to a song that reminds you of them could make a difference. All of these little things make them feel like they matter.
Listen to them
Most people talk more than they listen, but you should aim to listen more than you talk. Listening is a great skill, and you’ll make your friend feel important and seen when you make the effort to really listen to what they are saying.
Don’t try to give advice
Your friend doesn’t always need advice. Sometimes they are just venting and want somebody to listen. You don’t know what’s best for them, so don’t act like it. They just want you to listen, unless they actually ask for your advice. Empathize with them, but make sure you keep your advice to yourself unless they tell you they want it.
Validate their feelings
Sometimes, your friends will just need to be told that their feelings are valid. There are all kinds of ways we can invalidate someone with the language we use, so be careful. Aim to understand, listen properly, empathize, and validate. It’ll make a huge difference to your friends.
Supporting your friends is something that can take practice if you were never taught the proper skills (most of us weren’t). Keep doing your best!