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8 Compassionate Ways To Support People With Anxiety

8 Compassionate Ways To Support People With Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety can be incredibly stressful. It can be even more so when the person suffering from anxiety knows it’s affecting their relationships and friendships. As a person that cares for someone with anxiety, never forget they are going through enough already without having to deal with the extra pressure of acting as if everything’s okay for the sake of their loved ones. If someone you care about suffers from anxiety, there are many ways you can help them get through the rough times in life.

1. Be accepting

First and foremost, don’t be a fair-weather friend. If you truly care about someone, you’ll be there for them through the good times and the bad. It might be difficult for you as well, but helping a friend through their anxiety shows that you are genuine, and you’re not going to leave your friend to deal with his issues on his own. Accept their anxiety as it is: a disease of the mind. Your friend is sick, so it’s important to be there for them when they need you the most.

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2. Be educated

Understand the root causes of anxiety. It’s not something a person can simply “snap out of.” It’s a disease caused by a chemical imbalance in the person’s brain which causes physical as well as emotional distress. Don’t downplay a friend’s anxiety, thinking they can simply “get over it.” If they could, they would.

3. Don’t bring it up

Be cognizant of a friend’s anxiety, but don’t exacerbate the issue by calling attention to it. When making plans, think of activities that are fairly calm and aren’t too  stimulating; but don’t say things like “Well, I’d ask if you want to go to a concert, but I know you hate crowds.” Obviously, this will only make your friend feel as if he’s holding you back from doing something you actually want to do, and that you’re taking pity on him. Take your friend’s anxiety into consideration, but sweep it under the rug during conversation.

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4. Be active

Get your friend up and out of the house as much as possible. Hiking, playing a sport, or simply spending some time outdoors can alleviate a lot of the symptoms of anxiety that he probably feels on a minute-to-minute basis. Anxiety creeps in when the mind isn’t busy, so just “hanging out” will increase the chances of your friend having mild to severe panic attacks. Stay active, and keep his mind off of the anxious feelings that plague him during downtime.

5. Be yourself

Don’t feel like you have to be a different person around your friend. People who suffer from anxiety might be sick, but they’re not dumb. They’ll notice when you’re acting differently or walking on eggshells around them, which will only cause more anxiety for them. If a person who suffers from anxiety wants you around, it’s because you give them a sense of comfort by just being you. So be the person you always are around them. It will keep them grounded.

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6. Be resilient

At times, it can be emotionally exhausting to be there for someone suffering through anxiety. But that’s the case any time you find yourself supporting a sick friend. Do your best to help your friend, especially when they’re at their worst. They need you more than ever, and they truly appreciate everything you do for them.

7. Don’t take it personally

Your friend might need some alone time, and might be distant for a while in your relationship. That’s totally fine. If they need their space, give them space. Don’t think they’re ditching you; they probably just don’t want to drag you down with them. Make it clear to them that you’ll always be there for them when they need you, but you’ll also give them time and space when they need you to back off.

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8. Separate them from their anxiety

Your friend is not anxiety personified. In fact, their anxiety is a small part of who they are. They’re still the person you grew close to all those years ago, despite the recent changes that may have occurred within their mind. Remind them of who they are, especially during times when they truly don’t feel like themselves. The best way to help your friend through this difficult time in their life is to remind them of who they really are.

Featured photo credit: Hand / Jeff Kubina via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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