Trying to console someone who is in an emotional state can make you feel helpless. Most of the time, you are practically unable to do anything to help her. But simply being present and willing to listen can be of great help.
Part 1 of 3: Know what to say
Step 1. Break the ice
Let the other person know that you have noticed their suffering and be willing to listen to them. If you don't know her well, you can start by clearly stating why you want to help her.
- If you are friends, you can tell her: "I have noticed that you are going through a difficult time. If you want to talk about it, I am here."
- If, on the other hand, you don't know her very well, you can say: "Hi! My name is Marco and I also study in this school. I saw you were crying: I know we don't know each other, but if you want to tell me what it is, I'll gladly listen to you".
Step 2. Be candid and direct
Basically, if you already know what the problem is, you may be tempted to go around it. If it is the loss of a loved one, or the end of an important relationship, you may feel embarrassed to speak out clearly for fear of hurting the other person. The fact is, she knows very well what the problem is and is probably thinking about it. Talking about it clearly shows that you care about that person and that you are willing to talk about their problem without hypocrisy - as a result, they will likely breathe a sigh of relief.
For example, you might say something like, "I heard you recently lost your father. It must have been a very hard experience. If you want to talk about it, I'm here."
Step 3. Ask her how she is
One way to stimulate conversation is to ask the other person how they are doing. In any case, we are never limited to experiencing a single emotion, even in sad situations. So, giving her a way to let off steam can really help.
For example, if one of the parents passed away after a long and painful illness, he will obviously be overwhelmed with sadness. But he may also feel a sense of relief and feel guilty about it
Step 4. Keep your attention focused on her
You may be tempted to compare what she is going through now and a similar past experience of yours. The fact is, when you suffer, you are rarely willing to listen to the experiences of others. We want to talk about the present.
Step 5. Don't try to turn the conversation positively right away
Wanting to help someone feel better by showing them the good is a natural instinct. But be careful of the risk of giving the impression that you want to minimize his problems: he may think that you consider his feelings unimportant. Just listen, without trying to highlight the positive side of things at all costs.
- For example, avoid phrases like "Well, at least you're still alive!", "It's not a tragedy", or "Get up!".
- Instead, if you really have to say something, try phrases like "It's normal to feel bad: you're going through a hard time."
Part 2 of 3: Learn to Listen Carefully
Step 1. Realize that the other person needs to feel heard
Often, when we are in tears or emotionally we just need someone to listen to us. Avoid interrupting and offering solutions.
You may be able to offer solutions towards the end of the conversation, but try to focus on listening at the beginning
Step 2. Show her your understanding
One way to listen carefully is to reiterate what the other person is saying, for example: "You are telling me that you are upset because that friend of yours does not consider you."
Step 3. Don't get distracted while the other person is talking
Focus on her. Turn off the television. Look away from the mobile screen.
Staying focused also means not getting lost in daydreaming. Don't sit there thinking about what to say next. Instead, try to grasp what you are told
Step 4. To show that you are really listening, use your body language
In other words, look the other person in the eye. Nod to confirm. Smile when appropriate, or show concern by frowning if necessary.
Maintain a posture that reveals availability. That is to say, do not cross your arms, do not cross your legs and lean towards the interlocutor
Part 3 of 3: Ending the Conversation
Step 1. Recognize your feeling of helplessness
Many experience a feeling of helplessness when confronted with the situation of a friend who is having a hard time. It is a normal feeling; in all likelihood you won't know what to say. But even just acknowledging it and telling the other person they can count on you can be comforting.
For example, you can say: "I'm very sorry for what you are going through. I don't know what to tell you to make you feel better: in fact, I am aware that words can do very little. But I want you to know that, if you need to, you can count. on me"
Step 2. Make her feel that you are close to her with a hug
If you feel comfortable, hug the other person. However, it is always better to ask first; some experience physical contact with discomfort, especially if they have been the victim of some trauma.
For example, you could say, "I would like to hug you. May I?"
Step 3. Ask her what she plans to do
While there isn't always a solution to the pain, sometimes having a plan of some kind is enough to get better already. It may therefore be the right time to propose solutions in the least intrusive way possible, if the other person does not know exactly where to turn their head. If he has any ideas, encourage him to discuss his plans for the near future with you.
Step 4. Introduce the topic of psychotherapy
If your friend's problems are particularly serious, it is perfectly safe to ask him if he has ever thought about seeing a therapist. Unfortunately, getting into psychotherapy carries social stigma, but if your friend's problems have been going on for a long time, it may be worth talking to a professional who knows his or her business.
Obviously, the stigma surrounding the figure of the psychotherapist is absurd. You may have to convince your friend that there is nothing wrong with going into therapy. You could give him your support by letting him know that if he decides to go into therapy, your relationship will not change
Step 5. Ask him if there is anything you can do
Meeting you for a chat, perhaps choosing a specific day of the week, or simply seeing you for an aperitif from time to time, are all small gestures that can really help him. You may also be able to help them handle particularly burdensome tasks, such as needing to obtain a loved one's death certificate. Just introduce the topic to see if he needs anything in particular.
If the other person has no idea what kind of help to ask you, make concrete proposals yourself. For example, you might say, "I wish I could help you. I could give you a ride somewhere if you need it, or I could go get you some shopping or something. Let me know what you need!"
Step 6. Be honest
If you offer support or help of any kind, however, you need to be sure you can keep your word. For example, if you say "Feel free to call me at any time of day or night", then you have to be really willing to let go of what you are doing to talk to him. Likewise, if you offer to do something, like take him to the therapist, don't hold back when the time comes.
Step 7. Get in touch
Many have trouble looking for others when they need help, especially emotional help. So, don't forget to show up every now and then. It is important to be there when the other person needs you.