It is never easy to listen to somebody else’s problems. It is not easy to ask that person, “Are you okay?” when you know she’s not. It is never easy to think of something to say to make her feel okay. It is never easy especially if you know that what you say might affect her life tremendously.
I do not know what it is in me, but whenever I meet people, I usually get to know their story. These are not just mere story, but stories with depth and sincerity.
I have a friend who got her heart broken. They were engaged and set to marry this second week of December. Months before their wedding, something went wrong. Something that has been there already but remained unknown because of miscommunication. To make the story short, the guy had to break up with my friend. And yes, there was no wedding anymore.
She told me everything about the breakup. In fact, it was not only me. She told everyone else which makes her story a common denominator among her friends, and that is fine with her. That is just how she is. She is comfortable of telling people what she is going through.
I am younger than her and so at first I did not know how to cope up with her situation. I know stories like this but I did not expect it to be that much true in life. I only know themes like this in movies and TV shows. I was hesitant to tell her my opinion because I might cause a bigger problem.
Facing problems and solving them might be traumatic to the one who has the problem and the shoulder to whom one is crying. So, I am giving you helpful tips on how to give a wise advice.
- Lend your ears. Listening to rants and vents might be tiring and annoying sometimes. But, you have no choice but to listen. Sometimes people just want someone who will listen. Someone who has ears willing to endure her name calling, cursing, and crying hysterically. In that way, you are lessening the pain that she is feeling. Trust me, you’ve helped someone in that simple (which is actually not easy). If you ever notice, your friend after wailing and crying for an hour or so, will tell you, “Ho! I am okay now. Crying really help to make the pain go away.” No! The pain does not go away just like that. It takes time and effort. Crying just lessens the pain. And one more NO! Crying’s not the only factor. Ears that listened were the ones responsible. Lend your ears to anyone. You have no idea how much help you’ve given to someone.
- Do not rant as much as your friend. You are not the one on the spotlight, come on! It is your friend and do not be such a spoiler. I understand, you will feel really bad for the person who has hurt your friend, but hey! You are there to calm her down, not to make her hot under the collar. No matter how angry you are, just remain calm, and eventually, your friend will calm herself down.
- Do not impose! Sometimes, you as listener tend to react worse than your friend, so you talk a lot without filter and keep on imposing things to your friend without considering things but your emotions. Remember that a person facing a problem is vulnerable to everything that is surrounding her. All her senses are open and so whatever you say can affect her decision. Just imagine yourself being responsible for the decision she made and regretted because you imposed it on her. She believed that because she did not know what else to do. She was desperate. She was helpless. You might know the story but you do not know how deep it is. The only person who knows much about the problem at hand and how to solve it is the person who faces the problem herself. She knows where and how it started, why it got bigger, and how to end it.
- Guide rather than provide. Do not jump into providing the steps that your friend should follow. My professor said that we are all guidance counselors in our own right. It is one of the principles in guidance counseling that when you are talking to a person facing a problem, you should not give her the thing that she should do but you should just guide her by giving the choices. So, you as your friend’s guidance counselor should just lay down all the options and discuss to her the consequences that may come for each.
- Serial position effect theory in advising. Now, you have laid down the options along with the consequences that come with each. But your friend went crazy and chose the option which you think is dumb. “You’re mad! The options are too obvious. That is not what you should do.” That is the thing that you should NOT tell her. Remember that she is vulnerable. And at times, she cannot even think straight and focus. She is unbelievably at her wit’s end. So, calm yourself and choke her (metaphorically) in your mind. The best technique to do when laying options to your friend is to arrange the choices alternately. Hence, think though your options first. Think and choose which one is the best option for her to choose. If you have chosen that best one already. It is time to lay down the options to her in an orderly fashion. What you will do is to alternate the good and better options. So, the formula for that is this way: best option > good option > better option > best option. As you can observe best option are mentioned in the first and last position. This is because people tend to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst. This Serial Position Effect theory was coined by Herman Ebbinghaus. Also, do not forget to emphasize the good things that will happen when they choose the best option. In that way, you are helping your friend solve her problem by not obviously imposing your opinion on the matter at hand.
We are all concern to our dear friends. So, we do not want them to suffer and be stressed-out because of problems and more so because of us making the problem worse. We are there to listen and guide and not to rant and overreact. Yes, we do get affected by this as friends, but it does not permit us to control your friend’s mind. We should not forget that in the end it is our friend that can solve the problem in the end. They know the pain much than we do. They may be given an array of advice, but trust me in the end, they will always go with their thoughts and emotions. Remember that we are all responsible in the paths that we take in life.
I hope you get something from this. If you have additional idea on wise advising, then feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!