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11 Things (Not) To Do When Someone is Struggling With a Problem

Posted: August 4, 2015

Here are 11 things (not) to do when someone is struggling with a problem. Bringing up their past or making them feel guilty is certainly not one of them. Read on.

When you share your joys they are supposed to double and when you share your problems, they are supposed to reduce. But, sometimes the problem you share can seem to be far worse than it did earlier, after you’ve shared it with someone. There are a lot of times you have been in situations, where you desperately want to be heard. You decide to either message a friend or pick up the phone to ‘talk’ or just chat on social networking sites/apps. The conversation ends up with you feeling utterly disappointed or even dismayed. You wish you had not let this person know what you were going through.

This could happen because you shared it with the wrong person. A ‘wrong’ person could be someone who could not hide his/her happiness as it made them feel good, deep down, about being better off than you or they could not bear to see your happy state otherwise. It may be someone who only wanted some free entertainment and something to gossip about later.

Sometimes, you  may open up to someone who inadvertently says all the wrong things without meaning to make you feel worse off.

Sometimes, you  may open up to someone who inadvertently says all the wrong things without meaning to make you feel worse off or simply isn’t aware of little things which could be avoided to make a huge difference.

If a friend, family member or someone you just met decides to confide in you, here are 11 simple things to remember which will help putting that smile back.

  1. Listen to them first without interrupting, interpreting, analyzing or jumping to a conclusion.
  2. Listen without stopping them from venting or crying.
  3. Listen without pitying them or expressing shock.
  4. Listen without blaming them or making them feel guilt or shame.
  5. Listen without being indifferent or simply saying “I understand” when in reality you may not.
  6. Listen without belittling their problem.
  7. Listen without comparing their problem with someone else’s problem.
  8. Listen and see their side of the problem and not be in a hurry to take sides (their own or the other person’s, if any) without even wholly understanding.
  9. Listen without bringing in the past.
  10. Give them confidence through words once you’ve heard them out and understood them. Just saying “Everything is going to be okay”, works wonders.
  11. By sharing their secret or problem, this person has placed their trust on you. It would not be a good idea if you decide to share their secret with someone you think you trust and that ‘someone’ shares it with someone that they trust and so on. Your friend will eventually find out because, in the end, they will hear it from one of the people in the long chain who passed on their secret!

Only after your friend knows they have been fully heard, give them a hug (even a virtual one will do) and then offer solutions or options,  leaving them alone to make a decision.

Woman talking over the telephone image via Shutterstock

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