When it comes to pouring your heart over a heartbreak, life problems, or a death of your favourite TV character, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation at either at a mamak place, an artisan café, or even a Wi-Fi connected Texas Chicken joint.
However, while everybody knows how to talk, not everyone knows how to listen. Be careful when you are trying to comfort your crying friend, as you might leave them feeling bitter than the cold brew coffee you just paid RM 10 for. Here's how to avoid these mistakes:
1) Keep one-upping their stories
So, your friend just got off from a 5-year relationship. Don’t try to relate by telling them how you have been single for the past decade yet turning out fine, hence they shouldn’t feel to them. This is NOT a competition of whose life sucks more.
2) Try to be Mr. Fix-It
Unless you’re a certified management consultant hired to improve their business cash flow, stop trying to solve their problems by offering a six steps solution, complete with a contingency plan and post-mortem diagnosis. Instead, just give them space to breathe and talk about it. Ease their emotional burden.
3) Cut them off at every sentence
Having you as a friend that speak at a rate of 50 words per minute could be beneficial for trivia nights, but not when the two of you are trying to have a healthy, reciprocal talk between two people.
4) Try to fill every pause
Silence doesn’t have to always be uncomfortable. You really don’t have to snort, make a joke, or perform a lap dance every time there is a gap in the conversation. All you need to do is to be there.
5) Being very distracted
Stop looking over your phone or checking out every girl or guy that passes by. Weren’t you the one who was concerned and called them in the first place?
6) Being critical/prejudiced/judgmental
Just because they say that they are still mourning over the death of Robb Stark doesn’t mean that it’s not real. Keep an open heart.
7) Tell them they’re alright
When they tell you that they’re feeling unloved/unappreciated/unwanted, your first reaction might be:
- “Where got?? people do like you what.”
- “You should be more positive.”
- “The world is big. Syrian people are fleeing their lands, gun violence is spreading in America, and somebody is being kept in someone’s trunk right now, with duct tape all over their mouth.”
Even with the best intentions, you might have just minimized their struggles. Instead, try to validate their feelings first by asking, “Why do you feel so, tell me more” and the sorts.
And when you're out of things to say, a simple nod of "Yeah, that sucks," could be all they need.
This article was contributed by MK Zainal.