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3 Ways to Support Your Loved Ones Through Tragedies

3 Ways to Support Your Loved Ones Through Tragedies

Life, like the ocean, is versatile. It is ever-changing and unpredictable – we might be amazed in a moment for its tranquility and peace, but intimidated the moment after for its storms and tantrums. It is from such unpredictability of life which gives us the capability to stay strong in the midst of adversity, and be sympathetic to the ones around you who are hit and overwhelmed by a tragedy because in a way, we feel that we understand each other.

Yet, it is often that this feeling of sympathy – or empathy – comes and goes. We care about the person who was affected by the tragedy, but we are unsure of how we are able to offer them our support without offending them. In the end, aside from saying “I’m sorry for your loss”, we have done little to make our friends, or family feel better. This brings us to the question: how can we sympathize and support our loved ones through tragic events?

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1. Listen to their stories.

Before anything – we need to sit down and listen to what they have to say because it is their stories instead of ours. By simply listening to their perspectives, stories and memories, we are giving them space and time to grieve, and gradually pick up the courage to stand up once again. We seem to be bounded by the idea that people who were wounded by a tragic event require our counselling and advice. Yet, more often than not, our advice sounds scathing, unhelpful and downright disrespectful. Our desire to help has sometimes, unknowingly and unconsciously, caused more pain to the victims instead of being truly helpful. If we really wish to be of any assistance, we must first disregard our opinions, hold back our comments, and lend them our shoulders and our ears. After all, it is them – and only them who could pick themselves up, recover, and grow even stronger than before. 

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2. Understand that there are more than tangible ways to contribute.

Sending a large bouquet of flowers is one way of showing your care. But it is equally, if not more meaningful to drive up to their house, give them a warm hug and really listen to them. Offering to help pick up the kids from school, or bringing some food over so they would not have to worry about making dinner are also good alternatives. We need to understand that both physical and mental support is crucial to the victims of tragedies – letting them know that they have the world behind them as they fall, grieving, and praying for them and their family would already make a huge difference.

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3. Accept that you could not care about everything about everyone.

It is important to note that above all, we are still humans. There is only so much we could care – before we crack. Diluting our empathy a thousandfold so we can listen to, understand, and grieve for everything that happens to every single person around us would only wear us down eventually, rendering us exhausted and wary. How can you inspire hope in others when you extinguish the one inside yourself? In the end, there are times when we could only let our loved ones be, and allow them to take care of themselves and move on.

The amount of sorrows in the world could be truly suffocating sometimes; but it is only in darkness when you see the brightest light, when the support from friends, family members and the community gives out the warmest glow. Simply be present as your loved ones fight through adversity, and you will be surprised at how much better they will fare.

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More by this author

Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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