I’m an only child who grew up being somewhat shy and introverted. Even though in our society those traits can be considered negative, I’m actually incredibly thankful. Growing up as a fairly quiet child, I learned one valuable skill: the art of paying attention! Over time I became a good listener, started paying attention to details, and observed people and situations closely. It made me realize that there are so many forms of communication that are completely overlooked, since they aren’t actually spoken. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the unspoken communication is more important in the long run. We tend to be so afraid of the backlash we might receive or the consequences we have to face by speaking out, that we often end up bottling everything in until it comes seeping out in passive aggressive body language and behavior. So, you’re probably asking yourself what my point is here. Well, I’ve learned that by paying attention to these social cues from your peers you can prevent certain emotions from escalating. These in my opinion are the best ways to start reading between the lines and show your support.
If You Think Something’s Wrong, Then You’re Probably Right!
Do you ever get the sense that someone is having a bad day, but when you ask them if they’re okay they respond with, “Yeah, I’m fine”? As many of us (especially the men reading this) have learned, this is red flag number one! Chances are that person is having a really hard time, but they’re afraid they might break down if they admit it. I’m speaking as someone who’s been on both sides of this issue. Some of our poker faces might be better than others, but either way try to listen to your intuition! If you have a strong gut feeling that person is on edge, there’s a chance that you’re 99.99% right. My suggestion? Try not to agitate that person, but let them know that you’re there if they need anything.
Let that Person Vent
What is the one thing that all human beings have in common? We all need to vent occasionally. I know the last thing you want to hear about is a problem at work, or your friend’s dysfunctional love life, but chances are they’ve had to listen to you complain about the same exact things. It’s funny how our short-term memory kicks in during those situations! Anyway, everyone falls into these lonely states where they believe that nobody cares to listen. The more we show each other that that’s simply not the case, the healthier our relationships of any kind (professional, personal, etc.) will be.
Be a Sense of Comic Relief
We could be in a situation where we’re about to fall to our death and I will be that friend who will make a completely unnecessary joke. When it comes to being the source of comic relief in a stressful situation, you need to do it tastefully. Some situations should not be joked about WHATSOEVER. You’ll know when the timing is right. On the other hand, sometimes just getting one little laugh (even if it’s a pity laugh), can change the entire track of the conversation into having a more positive outcome. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative aspects of a situation, so it doesn’t hurt to look at the bright side or ridiculousness of that given problem.
Offer to Assist in the Best Way You Can
There’s a fine line in knowing when to offer your assistance and when to not take control over a situation. I’ll admit that I’ve accidentally crossed that line before, so I know that this can be extremely difficult. Sometimes a person might not need any help, but just want to talk about their feelings on a particular subject matter. In other situations, they might actually need your help and experience to get out of the rut that they’re in. The only way you can know what to do is by simply asking if they need your help and by offering what you can actually do. If they say, “No, that’s okay” then you need to leave it alone. Again, this is hard when you think you know what is best for that person, but in the end they need to do what they think is best for them.
Show that You Can Relate
I can guarantee that most of us have been through difficult family, work, school, relationship and/or health issues at some point in our life. If you haven’t, please tell me your secret! All joking aside, we’ve all been through some things that we’d like to forget about. Instead of blocking them completely out of your memory, use them for the power of good! If this person is going through a very similar situation that you’ve experienced, share with them how you got through it! It helps them to know that they’re not the unluckiest person in the world who fell into a freak situation. When they realize that the situation is a lot more common than they thought, it’s easier to work through it mentally.
Give the Reassurance That Person Needs
News flash: nobody actually knows if everything is going to turn out alright or not. We all collectively take this scary leap of faith and do the best we can to give us the most optimal outcomes in life. There are so many reasons to fill us with doubt, and sometimes we just need that bit of reassurance to snap out of the funk we’re in. Please be that reassuring person! I know sometimes telling the hard truth to someone is necessary, but you can at least still reassure someone that everything will work out in the end. Many people need hope or a goal of some sort to thrive. By being the hope-giver or the goal-setter, you’re helping that person more than you’ll ever truly know.
I hope this week’s topic helps you be a more supportive coworker, friend, family member, or partner! It takes a village for success to take place, and it’s always amazing to be part of that healthy support system.
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
What gesture has someone made to help you get through a rough situation?