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8 Common Yet Ignorant Ways To Comfort A Person

8 Common Yet Ignorant Ways To Comfort A Person

When someone opens up to us about the struggles they are facing in their life, it can be tough trying to avoid the same tired old platitudes. When we sympathize with someone, we are acknowledging that they are suffering. This sounds great, but is actually insufficient if you really want to help someone through their problems. What people need during tough times is your empathy – the ability to enter into their pain with them, remain non-judgemental, and respect what they are feeling without trying to impose your own opinions. This can be tricky, because many of us were raised to be sympathetic rather than empathetic.

So, what shouldn’t you say when comforting someone who is facing emotional or psychological pain? Read on to find out what phrases you ought to avoid, and how you can demonstrate a more empathetic response instead.

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1. “At least…”

Do not minimize someone else’s suffering by saying something like, “Well, your marriage may be falling apart, but at least you have a partner!” These kind of responses divert attention away from the other person’s actual pain.

2. “Cheer up!”

The last thing anyone feeling low needs to hear is to be told to “cheer up.” Human emotions just don’t work like that – and if you truly attempt to understand someone else, you’ll know this to be the case. When was the last time anyone telling you to cheer up actually helped? Exactly! A much better approach is to respect the other person’s emotions.

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3. “Give yourself a deadline!”

Sometimes well-meaning people suggest setting a grieving or anger “deadline.” They may say something like, “Give yourself a couple of months to get over it,” or even, “It’s been six weeks now, why aren’t you over your breakup/miscarriage/etc.?” This approach overlooks the fact that everyone’s emotional processes are different, and what may be a small blip for one person may be a big deal for another.

4. “You’re so lucky compared to others!”

Yes, it can be a good idea to count one’s blessings from time to time. However, it isn’t helpful to hear this when you’re in the midst of emotional pain. Such phrases overlook the very real problems someone is facing in the present.

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5. “Let’s not talk about that any more, it’s depressing.”

If you find it hard to handle what you are hearing, find a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation. Do not, under any circumstances, just tell the other person that you should talk about something more uplifting! It isn’t their job to bend in accordance with your wishes.

6. “Just keep busy.”

Another common piece of advice given to people undergoing emotional turmoil or depression is to “keep busy.” The trouble with this advice is that during difficult times it can be immensely hard to concentrate on “keeping busy” in the first place. In addition, distractions don’t make the underlying problem go away. Therefore, this suggestion is inappropriate.

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7. “I think what you should do is…”

A significant element of empathy is being able to remain non-judgemental towards the person who is telling you about their troubles. When you start trying to give advice or even telling them how to run their life, you are not being empathetic – you are merely being annoying and insensitive. Whilst you may want to “fix” this person, the more helpful response is simply to let them talk about whatever it is they are dealing with and to trust that they will discover a solution that works for them.

8. “Let me tell you about my experience…”

It can be tempting to try and relate someone else’s experiences to your own life history, but think carefully before telling them your own story. Do not dominate the conversation and make it all about you. Keep your attention on the other person, and if you have a past experience that you think may be relevant, ask them whether they would like to hear it before launching into an anecdote.

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Jay Hill

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on June 27, 2019

12 Ways To Improve Social Skills And Make You Sociable Anytime

12 Ways To Improve Social Skills And Make You Sociable Anytime

If you feel like you’re the awkward person at social events or you struggle to enter into conversations because you’re shy, it can impact your social life and your career.

However, you can start improving your social skills by following these 12 strategies and soon, you’ll be able to enter into conversations with confidence.

1. Behave Like a Social Person

You can behave like a more social creature, even if you don’t feel like it.

Don’t allow anxiety to hold you back. Make the decision to talk to new people and to enter into conversations even when you’re feeling nervous about it.

Over time, it will get easier and you’ll quickly start improving your social skills.

2. Start Small if Necessary

If going to a party or spending time in a crowd seems overwhelming, start small.

Go into the grocery store and say, “Thank you,” to the clerk or go to a restaurant and order your food. Practice making small talk gradually.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

If you want the attention off you in a conversation, get familiar with open-ended questions. Encourage others to talk so you won’t have to make the idle chit-chat.

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Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer and you may open the door to invite the other person to keep the conversation going.

Take a look at these tips on How to Be Amazingly Good at Asking Questions.

4. Encourage Others to Talk About Themselves

Most people really enjoy talking about themselves. Ask a question about a person’s career, hobbies, or family. Show you’re interested in hearing what is being said.

If you want to keep the conversation going, you should make it like playing ping pong. Learn more about it here: How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time

5. Create Goals For Yourself

Establish some small goals for yourself. Perhaps you want to practice one particular skill or maybe you want to start attending a social activity in your community.

Establish a goal and begin to work on strategies that will improve your social life.

Even better, learn to use SMART Goal to help you communicate better.

6. Offer Compliments Generously

Compliments can be a great way to open the door to a conversation. Offer a co-worker a compliment on a presentation he gave at a meeting or compliment your neighbor on his new car.

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Compliments can show others that you are friendly and there’re more reasons Why You Should Pay a Compliment to Someone Every Day.

7. Read Books About Social Skills

There are many books on the market that can help you learn specific social skills and ways to start conversations.

However, keep in mind that reading about these skills won’t make you an expert. You’ll need to practice them over and over again.

Some books recommendations here: 20 Powerful Books to Win You Friends and Influence More People

8. Practice Good Manners

Good manners go a long way in improving social skills. Practice being polite, showing gratitude, and using good table manners.

9. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Non-verbal communication is very important. Pay attention to the type of body language you use.

Try to appear relaxed, make appropriate amounts of eye contact, and appear open to conversation.

Learn how to properly use your body languages here: Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips

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10. Join a Social Skills Support Group

Many communities offer social skill support groups. Support groups help people who feel shy, awkward, or extremely anxious in social situations learn and practice new skills.

You’ll start improving social skills and may be able to make new friends who understand your difficulties.

11. Stay Up to Date on Current Events

Read up on current trends and news stories so you have something to talk about with people.

Try to avoid anything that is too controversial, such as politics, but do talk about other news stories that may be of interest.

It can be a great way to start a conversation and can help you stick to neutral subjects.

12. Identify and Replace Negative Thoughts

If you have a lot of negative thoughts about your social interactions, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, a person who thinks, “I’m really awkward and I will embarrass myself,” may sit in the corner at a party. As a result, he may leave the party thinking that he must be really awkward because no one talked to him.

Identify negative thoughts that are likely dragging you down. Replace them with more realistic thoughts such as, “I can make conversation and I can meet new people.”

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Don’t allow yourself to dwell on thoughts that aren’t productive! Find out How Not to Let Negative Thoughts Trump the Positive Vibes.

Good social skills are essential for effective communication. If you find socializing with others a challenge, start to take on my suggestions and practice each of them consistently.

Great social skills don’t come easily, you need to practice yourself and really try these tips by talking with others.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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