How to Console Someone Without Making it Worse

Life is a series of twists and turns that sometimes go up and sometimes go down. People almost always have lots of emotional range, so it’s not strange if someone feels sad or depressed. That can be due to a number of things, but as friends, we should offer our support in any way that we can. Sometimes we might make something worse unwittingly, but there are several ways to avoid that.

Don’t offer an unneeded opinion

Most people don’t want to hear another opinion when they’re grieving or feeling upset. Instead of telling them that they should’ve done something else specifically, which could potentially add more fuel to the fire, you might want to consider offering empathy. Expressing understanding is a much better way to console someone, because it doesn’t make anyone feel helpless about not being able to deal with their own problems.

Avoid talking about yourself

When someone is having a bad time, one of the worst things they could hear is someone else turning the situation towards themselves. The most usual effect of talking about yourself when someone’s having a problem is that you’ll come off as not listening to your friend’s problems. While sometimes it’s okay to offer a similar experience, so as to help with overcoming the problem, it’s very rarely the best first course of action.

Be symbolic

Not everyone knows how to express themselves with words, or even deal with a situation that requires a lot of talking and dialogue. People in general are used to symbolic gestures, and most even prefer them to words. One of the best ways to do that is to cheer someone up with sympathy flowers. Flowers are universally an effective symbolic element, so unless you’re absolutely sure they won’t help, you should consider sending some flowers to your friend.

Simply be present

Being there for someone doesn’t mean that you have to immediately solve their problems or make them feel exponentially better overnight. Merely being around your friend can make a world of difference. People have different emotional needs, but almost nobody wants to be truly alone when they’re going through something difficult. Consider being around your friend as long as they need you, and just hang out and do things they might want to do.

Realize they’re not you

Every person has their own unique way of coping and dealing with problems. If you insist your friend deals with their problems the way you would, then you risk coming off as insensitive, and even hurtful. Sometimes all you can do is guide your friend through their emotions, and offer support in anything they might need. Not every case requires you to be a professional therapist, but only a real friend. A real friend always understands when someone’s different and doesn’t insist they do something in a way they wouldn’t have done before.

Consoling a friend is not an easy thing to do. There is no manual on consoling someone, so we just need to react on an emotional level. With a little bit of extra experience, everyone should be able to become a consoling presence in their friends’ lives when needed.

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Ariana Ostrow
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