Sometimes though we have our best intentions we end up pushing friends away when they need us the most. When a friend is struggling or even just debating a next step, it is important to know how to be there for them. Being conscious and careful about how we respond is a kindness to a friend that will be appreciated and reciprocated when our time comes. It can be the determining factor between being pushed away or let in and make a real difference in how our friend procedes.
So how should we respond to a friend in need?
It sounds simple but real active listening is a skill that requires practice. At the core, it means being present to hear without a planned response and without thinking about what to say next while listening. It means being fully with your friend and engaging all of your senses to understand them as completely and accurately as possible.
Especially when we know someone for awhile, it can be easy to assume we know all about them. This really gets in the way of an authentic relationship in which we allow the other to grow and change and to contradict. As you are with your friend listening, imagine you are with them for the first time. Get background information. Ask them to clarify. Look for what’s missing. Paraphrase back to them and check if you’re understanding correctly.
Trust & Believe.
Sometimes all we need is for another to trust and believe in us. Even if your friend has fallen short a thousand times on promise to themselves, let them know you trust and believe they can succeed. See it for them before they can. Tell them they can have their dream if they want it. Build their esteem.
Follow up with your friend like you would with a lead or job referral. Don’t let it go too long. Let them know you are thinking of them and interested in updates. Ask a poignant question when checking in that lets them know you are really with them. Be specific and caring about what you ask. Let them know they can come to you and how best to reach out.
We all make mistakes. We all fall short. We all repeat patterns again and again before one day breaking them for real. You are not a boss or a teacher. You are a friend. Love your friend regardless and let them feel that love through their failures and successes equally strong.
Have you been showing up for your friends? In which of these ways or what other way? Comment here and share your experience.