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John Seeley
5 Things to do to help a friend in need by John Seeley

Friends often reach out for help when they are in need. Here’s what to do when your friend reaches out to you.

First try to calm them down a little by asking them o take a deep breath. Literally get them to pause for just a moment and breathe. Often times this will bring them more into a balanced state of mind.

The second thing to do is to listen, really listen to them. Sometimes you need to make a “safe space” for them to open up. This can be accomplished by giving them your full attention. Even on the phone, they can sense whether you are giving them only part of your attention. If you’re physically with them, look at them, look in their eyes. Have an empathetic attitude and make sure it reflects in your face. Don’t make any judgments about what you hear. Come from a place of neutrality.

Ask them if they want your advice or if they just want you to listen. Men often make the mistake of trying to “fix” a problem when they see it. That’s why a new problem may be created if advice is offered and not wanted. Sometimes you may have some advice that fits for you, but might not be the best for them. So first ask them what they see as a solution. People have their own answers, but often times are too involved to see them. Other times with a little reflection they will figure out what needs to be done.

If you do offer advice, make sure it is balanced. Sometimes we have our own agenda when we offer advice. It’s always best to frame your advice with something like well if I were in your situation, I might such and such. Remember they are looking for support, but you need to be their balance to help them to see what makes sense to them. Remember that if you say throw the bum out, and they decide they want to stay with him, you are setting yourself up for a problem of your own.

Finally make sure they feel heard. Often that’s the real need they have. You can perception check with them by asking “If I hear you right, you are feeling such and such.” Then see if you are accurate. Once they really feel that they’ve expressed their feelings and emotions and feel heard, the problem will seem handleable. Just knowing that they have support can make them feel better and have hope.