Giving moral support to a friend, family member or colleague can be tricky because everyone deals with their feelings differently. Therefore, what one person needs may not be what another person needs. Whether or not someone is going through a difficult situation, emotional support is a significant aspect of nourishing any kind of relationship. There are many ways to be there for your loved ones, but some of the best ways to offer moral support are through love, reassurance, touch or encouragement. Here are some tips for being supportive the next time your shoulder is needed.
One of the best forms of moral support is to simply listen. People will often tell you what they need, so it’s important to respect their decision – even if it’s “I don’t need anything.” Listening doesn’t just mean being in the same room as someone, but instead giving them your full attention. Use open body language such as turning and facing them and making eye contact. Passive or negative body language may make the person shut down even more and may discourage them from discussing their feelings with you again.
One of the first things most people ask whenever we’ve faced a tragedy or a hard situation is, “what can I do?” So, of course you should consider how you can be there for someone when they need you most. The only person who can tell you the best way to offer moral support is often the person themself. However, it’s also very important to respect boundaries. Do not push them to answer questions if they would prefer not to. If they decide not to talk about it, then let them be and understand that they may not be ready to discuss their feelings. There are other ways you can be a positive force in their day without being pushy.
Don’t judge or invalidate
Invalidating or belittling someone’s feelings can do more harm to the person – this isn’t what you want. Even if you have the best intentions, being critical in difficult times can be unhelpful and poorly timed. Also, listening is better than sharing (see above). It’s great to empathize with someone and talk to them with compassion, but don’t make everything about yourself and don’t compare their situation to your own unless it makes sense or they ask. Listening is key when offering moral support.
Understand that little things can make a big difference. People tend to appreciate small gestures, whether it is ordering them food or accompanying them to run errands. These are all ways you can offer moral support without making the person feel overwhelmed. Sometimes people are afraid to ask for help, so offering your assistance or doing something for them without being asked is a great way to support each other.
Never rush someone before they are ready. This applies to most things, including getting someone to open up. Everyone takes a different amount of time to confide in others, so do not expect them to overcome their emotions right away, especially if the scenario is particularly difficult. Let them know that they can take their time, and you are there whenever they are ready.
Spend time together
Planning a day out together is a great way to foster better connection and communication in your relationships. Going out for brunch, watching a movie or going for a hike are all fun ways to spend a day with someone you are close to. Plus, this offers you a chance to engage in conversation, catch up on what’s going on in each of your lives and just have fun if you need to blow off some steam.
Even if the person prefers to be alone (which you should respect), checking in on them is a great way to remind them that you’re there for them. Even if they don’t want to talk right away, they may eventually want to open up, so ensure that they know you are willing to listen. However, keep your eyes open for red flags – if someone seems like they need more help than you can give or they are engaging in troubling behavior, it’s always better to seek out professional help.
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