Take a pause and think for 2minutes, How many times have you used the above statement to reduce your friend’s distress, to relieve your mother from a worrying thought that she is occupied with, to console your classmate who fear of failing in examination, to sympathise with a colleague of yours who is on the verge of losing his job and you will come out with many such situations.      

There are different ways and we can have our own style of comforting somebody who is undergoing some sort of emotional despair. But does that help him/her? It’s difficult to answer this question but at least we can make an attempt to understand the right ways to do so. Let’s think about few things that one should avoid while giving emotional support to a person who is undergoing any kind of despair and grief.

a)      Don’t overdo it. Avoid any kind of show off i.e. don’t pretend to be disheartened to the extent of repeating “Oh! I am sorry, I feel sorry for what happened with you”. This will make the person annoyed rather than reducing his/her pain.

b)     Avoid using sentences like, “don’t worry you will be fine”, “Just try to relax, I am sure things will be fine with you”. By using such sentences you are dismissing someone’s emotion and not addressing it properly. Such sentences do not lead to anywhere and do not even let the distressed person to vent out his/her emotion.

c)      Avoid gossiping. Don’t make someone’s grief your topic of discussion. “How it happened, when it happened, where it happened”, all these can be discussed later. It doesn’t show your concern rather your curiosity.

d)     Avoid being judgemental. “It must have happened because of your carelessness”, saying so you will give your judgement about the person and he/she would not like it. It will make the person reluctant to share any of his/her worries to you.


By following little few things we can extend our emotional support to a distressed person.

a)      Be yourself. Try to behave as natural as possible and don’t pretend to be something which you are not. You will be liked and appreciated for what you are.

b)     Address the emotion. Try to address the emotion by your active listening, facilitating the communication, and being with the person in true sense.

c)      Open-ended question will help the person to vent out his emotions. Don’t feel uncomfortable in asking questions like “How do you feel about it, what is going on in your mind, How do you want to react to this situation”. You never know, these questions may bring out the underlying grief and despair of the person.

d)     Practice some positive gestures. Don’t be hesitant if you see the distressed person wants a hug from you or want you to hold his/her hands. It helps him/her to release his/her suppressed pain in the form of cry, shouting which will be a great vent out for the person.

 It’s not important for a friend of yours that how much time did you spend with him when he was undergoing a gloomy phase of life, what matters more is how did you spend your time with him. Remember emotion is not something which you can sort out quickly by saying few things like don’t worry, everything will be fine with you, which sounds very meaningful to you but may be equally meaningless for your friend. It needs your time, your quality time, it needs you to empathise and not just sympathise, in order to be addressed properly.

This is something which of great importance not only in our personal life but is equally important when a Psychologist is counselling his client, a Doctor talking to his patient, a Marketing Professional trying to convince his customers, and also when a leader is  addressing a crowd.



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