You’ve probably found yourself in situations where your close friend is in need and you felt like you should help somehow but you didn’t know how to approach the situation. If this did happen to you, you may want to be prepared for a similar situation next time.
Find out what the problem is
The first thing you should notice is how upset your friend is. You should act according to their feelings. If your friend seems upset, you’ll put more effort into comforting him or her. On the other hand, if your friend is bothered, but not too upset, you can help them without overreacting. It’s important to evaluate the situation because you don’t want to upset them more with under-reaction or overreaction.
You can try and figure out what the problem is on your own, and then adjust your approach. You should consider the things you want to say, to avoid saying anything that would further upset them. Ask them openly what is going on, what the problem is, or do they want to share what happened. If your friend still isn’t ready to talk, give them the time and space they need before they open up. Whatever you do, don’t push them. Sometimes just your presence can be comforting.
Hug your friend
While being present can sometimes be enough for your friend in need to feel better, hugging them will be even more beneficial in most cases. You don’t even have to know what they’re upset about and you can still help them with just a hug. A kind touch will show them that you are there and that you’re not going anywhere. They may feel lonely and showing affection in such a tender way will be very useful for them.
Of course, if your friend isn’t a hugger, don’t force anything. This way, you could achieve the complete opposite of what you intend to achieve. Instead of hugging, you can just sit with them and tell them that you’re there for them. Tell them that they can count on you and wait for them to open up. When they do, let them vent. Don’t interrupt them and let them express their sadness or anger, whichever bothers them. You can even encourage them to continue by asking them questions about how they feel.
Listen to your friend
One of the most important things you can do to help a friend in need is just to listen to them. If your friend feels lonely, angry, sad, or hopeless, you can easily show them that things aren’t that bad just by compassionately listening to them. They may need some time to tell you everything they want to and you should be very patient. No matter what they tell you, don’t get judgmental. It’s probably hard for them to share and you want to make the whole situation bearable for them.
Don’t act bored or uninterested. Watch your words and actions. Don’t try to change the subject. Don’t answer your calls while your friend is talking. All of these will just make your friend’s state even worse. Instead, encourage them to speak more and show them that you care about their problem and well-being in general. If you feel like the environment you’re talking to each other isn’t suitable, propose some other place for the conversation.
Empathize with your friend
While your friend is talking, don’t interrupt them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and look at the problem through their eyes. If you manage to do this, you’ll have a better insight into your friend’s problem and it will be easier for you to determine what you should tell them. Nod your head while their talking, or tell them that you understand them.
When you manage to understand their feelings, you’ll be able to help them in a better way. Don’t change the subject and start talking about yourself or someone else. Tell them that you understand why something is hurtful or that you get why they’re feeling in a certain way. Validate your friend’s emotions by telling them that it’s okay to feel disappointed. This will help them feel less alone.
Offer your help
You can be straightforward and ask your friend whether you can do something or not. Ask them what they need you to do. If you do this, you’ll avoid unwanted situations, such as overstepping some boundaries or not helping at all. Ask openly what they want you to do and if it’s possible, do that.
Your friend may feel awkward asking for help. If they do, make sure to show them that they can count on you. To show them affection when they’re lonely, send flowers to them. Call them a few times in a day to make sure they know you think of them. Call them out for lunch or take them to their favorite play.
Respect your friend and their pain
Your friend may be going through a lot right now and you don’t want to expand the agony they’re going through. Don’t try hard to fill in the silences when they occur. Saying nothing is better than saying something wrong or inappropriate. You can sit silently and make sure you don’t trivialize your friend’s pain. If you start pointing out that their situation is common or not too bad, you’ll just make them feel worse. Because of this, staying quiet is a better solution.
Try to not appear too positive while you talk to your friend. Don’t compliment your friend or talk about everything being fine because that’s not something they want to hear. You can remind your friend what their strengths are, but don’t go overboard with compliments, so they don’t sound empty and fake. You shouldn’t give advice either. This is wrong because you’re not the one supposed to fix your friend’s problems and it may appear rude and disrespectful. Keep your friend’s feelings in mind and pay attention to avoid hurting them in any way.
If you see your friend suffer, it’s normal that you want to help them. The problem is that you don’t always know-how. Approach the situation following some of these tips and help your friend get through the rough period.