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Published on September 18, 2018

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

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Kathryn Sandford

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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