When we go through especially smelly moments in our lives, we often tend to forget that these negative emotions and feelings are experienced in a very different way if we have the support of others. Sadness, helplessness or disillusionment do not have to be suffered in isolation; if we live in society it is to receive help and to help others.
In fact, it is normal that when we see someone in a bad mood, we get the urge to help them. But knowing how to give emotional support is not necessarily simple , and it is relatively easy to make mistakes.
Tips on emotional support
In the following lines we will see several tips to know how to give emotional support from relatively simple steps. Applying them well requires some practice, but with time and effort, you will most likely see significant improvements in your way of helping the other person to cope better with their bad emotional situation .
1. Choose the right context
Choosing the right time and place is a necessary and insufficient condition to know how to give emotional support.
The main thing is to be in a moment that is not transitional, that is, that is not going to end soon (for example, the passage through an elevator), that is not strongly linked to an important experience not related to what produces discomfort (for example, the completion of a paper at a conference) and that allows for a certain privacy .
The physical characteristics of the place are also something to take into account. Much better if it is a place with few distractions and where communication is easy: free of noise, sudden changes, etc.
2. Let the other person give the information they want
It is important not to pressure the other person to give us all the information we need to know exactly how they feel. The simple fact of feeling that pressure is one more cause of stress that accentuates the discomfort.
In case you notice that she closes down, it’s enough to give her the opportunity to open up more by expressing directly that she can count on you for anything, and to notice that she’s not going to be judged.
For the latter it is necessary to maintain a serious whole that expresses empathy, and not to joke too much about the possible cause of the other’s emotional pain . It is a mistake to imply that what makes you feel bad is actually nonsense, because from that perspective it is impossible to connect with the other.
3. Active listening
When the person speaks it is important that you give signs that you are making efforts to understand what they are saying and the implications of what they are saying. Coming clean about what makes us feel bad is already intimidating to many people, and if you don’t feel you’re doing a lot of good, the incentive to accept our support will fade.
To do this, practice active listening and make this moment really a symmetrical personal interaction where one person expresses himself and the other supports him and tries to understand how the other feels. Maintain eye contact, make comments without abruptly interrupting , recapitulate the information given by the other person, etc.
4. Validates your emotions
It clearly shows that you know what he feels makes sense, even though you obviously don’t feel the same way. This is important, because otherwise you take it for granted that there is a disconnect between you because you have not gone through exactly the same thing. Don’t ridicule his ideas or his feelings, on the contrary, show that you know they have reason to be.
5. Talk about your perspective
This is something that is often overlooked, but it is very useful. It is true that when it comes to giving emotional support the important thing is what the person who is experiencing the emotional distress feels , but it is also true that if you talk to him about what you believe, you are indicating that you are involved in your case and trying to draw parallels between what is happening to him and what has ever happened to you. In addition, this perspective can help you see your experiences from another point of view.
So, when you’ve heard the main thing about her case, you can give her this brief feedback, but don’t let the conversation turn to an entirely different topic: it must be something that is included in the act of supporting her for what is happening to her.
6. Point out the possibility of a hug
It is possible to give that, if the other person wants it, you give each other a hug . But you don’t have to ask directly or make a clear gesture that shows you are going to hug, because if you don’t want to, this can leave a bad taste in your mouth because you feel guilty if you refuse.
Usually the best thing is something more subtle: a few taps on the shoulder or back that give an excuse to get closer and that, if the other person wants, can become a hug. Let the other one take that step.