How to Provide Support
Welcome to episode #47 of the Introvert’s Bubble podcast! Today, I want to discuss how to serve as a support system to our friends, family and people around us. Since there is a lot of crazy stuff happening in our lives, it can make all the difference when someone reaches out to offer help.
Sometimes, just lending an ear to listen is the best thing we have to offer! Lots of times, what people need the most it to be heard; to have someone willing to listen. Be that person. I actually talked about this on another episode: the importance of validating someone else’s feelings in tough situations. Feel free to check out that episode for more tips!
Here are some generous and caring ways that you can “be there” for a friend:
Listen without interruption or judgement
When you are listening to a friend or loved one, try to pin-point what the other person needs from you. Do they need help talking through it, or do they want you to just listen? Help them realize what they need to heal. Lots of times, being next to them (or on the phone) is enough. If they need more than just someone to listen, ask how you can help. Be an advocate if that’s what is needed. When you advocate, then you can also educate (just don’t be condescending about it).
Be that trustworthy friend
Remind your friend that they should choose their confidantes wisely and assure them that you are their gal (or guy). Be a trustworthy person and keep what they tell you confidential, and give them your word that their secrets and feelings are safe with you. This will make them feel more comfortable opening up and releasing their feelings, worries, excitement and concerns.
Watch what you say
If you really want to help, make sure that you are considering the emotional state of the person confiding in you. Be careful with your wording! For example, saying “you don’t deserve to be treated poorly” is better than saying “don’t let people treat you poorly.” I saw this example, and a couple more, on a Tumblr post from The Shadow of the Phoenix. What I appreciated the most about the examples he or she gave is that the burden was not placed on the victim. Instead, it was affirming their role in the situation; not placing blame or guilt on them.
In conclusion, when listening, respond in a supportive way. Validate the other person. Don’t blame the victim if there is any sort of abuse or give them a reason to feel ashamed. Please realize and remember that you have the power to be helpful and supportive. And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it too!