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These Critical Crisis Management Tips Will Make You a Better Friend

These Critical Crisis Management Tips Will Make You a Better Friend

Life throws us curveballs without any warning. Some curveballs can come from nowhere and some send us signals they are coming but we choose for what ever reason to, ignore the signs.

Nobody is immune to life’s curveballs. We live in a world where as a result of technology, we are exposed to natural disasters, terrorism, disruption, change and adversity on a daily basis.

The good news is that despite all this disruption, change and adversity that we face in our lives, we are hardwired to be resilient. The ability of how well we as an individual successfully deal with crises and adversity is significantly influenced by our social surroundings.

So what does this all have to do with friendship? A huge amount, because without the support of our friends and family in times of crises, our journey to recovery is virtually non existent.

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness” — Euripides

Euripides quote highlights the true purpose of friendship. Supporting and helping our friends to successfully manage their journey through a life crisis enables them to face adversity from a position of strength.

Friendship is the key ingredient to enabling a friend in crises to be able to understand how to face adversity in a way where they can learn, grow and thrive.

If we are a true friend, then our role is to support our friends and not let them crash and burn to a point where they have lost hope and their faith in themselves.

So what can you do to help your friends successfully manage adversity or crises in their lives?

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These 3 strategies I believe are the key ingredients to you being able to effectively influence and support your friends through those curve balls that life will throw at them:

1. Be prepared to commit to your friendship

If you truly want to help and support your friend through a crisis, commit to being there for the long haul – no matter what.

A true friend does not wait for the phone call or the plea for help – they REACH OUT immediately.

This can be a hard thing to do especially when a friend is suffering and in pain. It can be scary and confronting as it means that not only do we feel their pain but we also are forced to face our own emotions and fears that can rise to the surface.

One of the key actions you can do to support your friends is to let them know that you love them, you are there for them and that they are not alone.

2. Commit to taking action

Before you take action, take a long hard look at yourself and decide what your reality is around you taking action. Do not over commit and promise to do things that you cannot deliver on.

A colleague of mine had a friend that broke her neck diving into a pool. She was a mum with young school kids. She desperately needed her friends support and they were all leading very busy lives with young families.

I was very impressed with the way in which my work colleague coped with managing this crisis.

She assessed the reality of how she could realistically provide on going support to her friend. She went and visited her friend in hospital told her that she loved her dearly, she was there for the long haul and she explained what she was going to do to support her friend.

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She had found an app that helped her organize meals to be delivered to the family for 5 nights a week. She had managed to get 80 people to sign up and the app organised emails and scheduling.

When her friend got home from hospital, she blocked out every Wednesday night after work to visit her friend for a wine and a chat.

She also told her friend that she would be her hair, makeup, pedicures go to person. She organized the hairdresser, makeup and pedicure ladies to come to the house on a regular basis. The appointments were scheduled in every 6 weeks.

The accident happened over 18 months ago and my work colleague is still going strong supporting her friend to manage the on going challenges she faces in her life.

3. Listen, listen and listen — Hold back from giving advice until it is asked for

This strategy leads on from Strategy 2. Once you have committed to taking action, then it is time for you to be present with your friend.

What I mean by this is, that as a true friend you do not have the solution or the power to solve the problem or make the pain go away.

Physically being there with your friend is being present and it may mean you turning up and holding your friends hand. It may be that you sit with your friend listening and supporting them through whatever she/he is feeling while you are with them.

Listen and let them know you hear their pain – not feel it, but actually hear it. Acknowledge their pain because when you connect with someone’s pain it makes them feel they are being supported.

A good statement to say to your friend at this stage could be;

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“What I’m hearing is that you are feeling ____. Is that right?”

Share how you truly feel – confused, lost for words, or struggling to know what to do.

Sharing your feelings with your friend demonstrates empathy and deepens your connection with them. Here are some examples of what you could say

“My heart hurts for you” ” I wish I could make it better for you”, “I just don’t know what to say”

When a friend opens up to you to share their pain, they are in a very vulnerable place. It shows that they trust you and it is important that you acknowledge this.

By expressing gratitude and thanking them for sharing with you demonstrates that you are a safe harbour for them.

The next step is to encourage by reaffirming the positive elements that you see in your friend.

Be careful not to say things like ” it will get better” or “this is what I would do”. Once you start making statements like this you are disconnecting from your friend and you are not being supportive in any way.

To be encouraging and positive, focus on sharing the qualities that you admire about your friend. Help your friend to see that they are amazing and worthy of love.

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Simple statements are the most powerful such as ” I love you”, “you are a warrior”, “I am proud of you”, “you matter so much to me” You are brave/courageous/brave”.

Understanding the power of words is hugely important when it comes to supporting a friend through a crisis. When you are truly committed to a friendship, then the words you use will demonstrate empathy, connection and love.

Final thoughts

Being a true friend is not that complicated, in fact it is very simple. All we have to do is follow the 3 strategies:

  • Make a commitment to the friendship
  • Demonstrate your commitment by taking action and be present with your friend in crises
  • Listen and support.

How hard can that be?

Knowing who you are as a true friend is key to your supporting friends through any crises they may face. Follow the 3 strategies and your true value as a friend will provide you with friendships that will last for life – a rare gift that is priceless.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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