“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” – Saint Augustine
I lost both my parents within 3 days of each other and when they died my world came crashing down. I was in shock and so much pain that I could hardly breathe. I continued to feel the pain and grief for many months.
When caring for and supporting someone who is grieving, it is easy to feel helpless. There is no way we can take away the pain and the intensity of their grief and that can be overwhelming for us. I know that many people wanted to help me ease the pain of my grief and only now do I understand that supporting someone who have experienced loss can be difficult.
While there is no perfect way to care for and support someone who is grieving, these 6 guidelines will help you to care for a friend or partner in their time of need.
1. Prepare Yourself To Experience The Physical Pain Of The Persons Grief
Be open to experiencing and feeling that person’s grief. You will have emotions that will arise within you and they should not be held back. If you feel you need to cry, then cry. If the person goes to hug you and holds on to you sobbing don’t pull away, respond and hug them back for as long as it takes for them to release the hug.Advertising
Always be genuine about how you feel and if you don’t know what to say acknowledge it by saying ” I am sorry this has happened to you. I am not sure what to say, but what I want you to know is that I care about you and I am here for you”.
2. Understand The Grieving Process
Experiencing the tragic loss of my parents I learnt that there was a lot more to grief than I had ever known. I did not know that there was a difference between grief and mourning. Grief are the internal thoughts and feelings we experience when someone we love dies. Mourning is taking the internal experience of grief and expressing it outside of ourselves.
Instead of being encouraged to express grief externally, we are told to; “keep your chin up”, “take it day by day'”, “keep yourself busy” or “tomorrow is another day”. Many people as a result feel uncomfortable and so grieve in isolation which is not helpful for the healing process.
If you have not experienced grief and loss you can still support and care for a grieving friend or partner. Spend some time reading and learning about the grieving process. This information will give you a better insight as to how you can help and what help you can offer to a person as they mourn for the loss of their loved one
There is no right or wrong way to grieve however the better you understand grief and how it is healed the better you will know how to help.Advertising
3. Avoid These Statements
I know that people have good intentions and truly cared for me. They wanted to help me when I was grieving however some people did make some totally useless statements in their effort to show their support. These statements only intensified the pain of my grief and made me feel even more isolated. I felt that it was me who was in the wrong and that I was grieving too much! So be aware of the statements you make in your effort to help someone who is grieving.
Here are few statements you should avoid at all costs:
- She or he is in a better place.
- You must be strong.
- He or she are at peace or they lived a good life.
- God must have wanted her or him because she or he was such a good person.
- Everything happens for a reason, life must go on.
- I know exactly how you feel.
- I guess it was his or her time to go.
- Its part of God’s plan.
- Look at what you have to be thankful for.
- This is behind you now – its time to get on with your life.
4. Listen with Compassion
Many people who grieve do not give themselves permission to mourn or receive permission from others to mourn. People tend to view grief as something that needs to be overcome rather than be experienced.
When grief is suppressed and internalised it creates confusion and internal anxiety within a person. Encourage and support your friend or partner to move toward their grief, rather than away from it and to mourn for the person they have lost.
Do not avoid talking about death or mentioning the deceased person. People who are grieving need to feel that their loss is acknowledged and that the person is not forgotten. Check in with your friend or partner to see if they are okay to talk about their loss by asking them, “Do you feel like talking?”Advertising
Accept and acknowledge their feelings and that it is okay for them to get angry, cry or sit in silence. When you care and support a person who is grieving, be willing and comfortable to sit in silence. Having someone who cares and loves them by their side is a key part of the healing process.
5. Offer Practical Support
It is difficult for a grieving person to ask for help. There are many reasons for this, such as having no energy or motivation to ask for help. For me it was because I felt guilty asking for help. I thought that I would be a burden as my friends led such busy lives that they had no time to spare.
If you want to help and support a friend or your partner who is grieving take the initiative and make specific suggestions. For example you could say “I am going to the market this morning. What can I get you?”; “Lets go for a coffee and walk. I will pick you up at…”; “I have made a casserole for your dinner and will drop it off this afternoon”.
6. Provide Ongoing Support
Grief continues for the person long after the funeral. Once my parents funerals were over and everybody had gone home that was when it hit me. Life was back to normal. Children back to school and me back to work. In one week my life had traumatically changed and yet life kept on going. It is at this point when the support and care of friends and family was most important.
If you want to support and care for your friend or partner, be prepared to be there for the long haul. Do not make assumptions about how your friend or partner appears to be on the outside. Avoid saying “you look well” or “you are doing great”. Inside they will be still feeling the pain so ask them “do you feel like talking?” or “what can I do for you?”.Advertising
Take the initiative and be aware that this person’s life will never be the same. You never get over grief, instead you become reconciled to it. Over time you learn to move forward with your life without the physical presence of the person who has died.
With your ongoing support and care, your friend or partner will slowly start to feel more energy to moving forward in their life. They will start talking more positively about life and one day they will acknowledge to you that although their grief was a difficult and painful time, they understand that it is a necessary part of living.
That is when you know you have done an amazing job caring for and supporting someone you love who is grieving. They are now moving forward with their life.
Last Updated on February 20, 2019
How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.
Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.
Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.
Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.
Table of Contents
What is Effective Communication?
Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.
Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.
It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.
Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.
Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.
Are You a Poor Communicator?
Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.
If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.
- You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
- Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
- Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
- Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
- Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
- Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
- Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
- Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.
What Effective Communication Can Do For You
Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.
- Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
- Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
- Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
- Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
- Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
- Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.
- Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
- Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
- Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
- Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
- Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
- Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?
Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?
The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.
Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.
If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.
On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.
Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.
How to Master Effective Communication Skills
In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!
1. Learn how to listen
Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.
Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.
2. Make eye contact
Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.
Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.
3. Ask questions
When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.
Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.
4. Watch body language
Watch both yours and the other persons.
We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.
On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.
Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.
5. Speak confidently
Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.
It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.
These tips will help you speak more confidently.
6. Keep it simple
You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.
That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.
7. Know your audience
You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.
Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.
8. Be empathetic and understanding
There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.
Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.
Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.
9. Pause before reacting
There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.
When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.
10. Over communicate
You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.
I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.
Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.
At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.
Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.
At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.
You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.
Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.
More Resources About Work Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office
- How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career
Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com