How to Support a Friend is a question that often puzzles us. We wonder what is the right thing to do in many situations. Knowing how to support a friend in trouble can actually present quite a dilemma, especially when it seems that whatever we do will cause problems. So here are some tips on how to support a friend when they need help.
One of the best piece of advice on how to support a friend is to make it clear that you are there to listen whenever they need to talk. Perhaps it is obvious that they are going through a difficult time, yet they are not ready to admit it. So simply let them know that they can rely on you to offer a listening ear when they want to talk.
You may not always approve of what your friend has done, but criticising them won't help them. If they're involved in something that is against your moral code, for example, but you really want to help them, avoid judging them as that will simply alienate them, and nothing will change. If you really want to know how to support a friend, you'll have to set judgement aside.
It's never wise to dispense unwanted advice, as implying that you know best is only likely to cause resentment. Ask your friend if they want any ideas on how to solve their problems, or suggest where they can go for advice, but never tell them what you think they should do unless you can be absolutely sure that it won´t cause offence. Sometimes the best way you can figure out how to support a friend is so just listen (see above) without giving unwanted advice.
This may mean literally, or metaphorically. If your friend is facing a relationship breakdown, you may be able to offer them your spare room so that they have somewhere to go. Or by being a friend you may just provide a place where they can talk about their problems.
Don't be an enabler. For example, if your friend is asking you to lend them money because they've overspent yet again, chances are they will be asking again before long. Enabling them to carry on the same way will not change their behaviour or solve the problem. Instead, offer to sit down with them and help them work out a budget, or how they can repay their debts. When you're learning how to support a friend, you have to realize that, sometimes, you have to take a hard stand.
Generally, it's best to keep your opinion to yourself if you want to support a friend. Sometimes we don't like who our friend is dating, but telling them so is a bad move as they may feel that you are making them choose. Chances are that they will choose their boyfriend. People have to make their own mistakes, so don't try to save them.
Another tip on learning how to support a friend is by being around when they don´t need you, as well as when they do. This means making time for them and not neglecting the friendship. It's just as important to maintain a friendship as it is to be supportive in times of trouble.
If you want to support a friend who is going through emotional stress, see what works for them. People have different ways of dealing with problems and difficulties; with bereavement, for example, there really is no set way in which anyone should react. Let them show you how they want to deal with the situation, and work from there.
Learning how to support a friend takes time, but it is work the effort. It is certainly difficult sometimes to know how to support a friend, but by following these tips you may make a great difference to them. We all want to do what we can to support a friend, and these tips may also help if you want to tell a friend what they can do to support you. What do you consider the best thing that you could do to support a friend? I'd love to hear any additional tips on how to support a friend when they need it, so please include yours!
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