Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Problem: You don’t know what to say

Have you ever had an instance where you didn’t know what to say?

Maybe someone had a death in the family or experienced an unfortunate accident or maybe someone simply had a really bad day beyond anything you could ever imagine.
Sometimes there are instances where we feel bad for the other person but there are just not enough words. These are the times when we may say ‘I’m sorry’ as a way of expressing sympathy or empathy, but we really don’t have any other words beyond that.

When we are silent, it becomes awkward. This is the time when people make assumptions from our silence and sometimes this makes a situation worse.

When we are silent, the other person doesn’t think we care about their situation. They may think that we have no heart or feelings or that we are self-absorbed. And we all know this is not the case. But sometimes this can cause even more problems with feelings of being shunned or ignored.

The Solution:
These are the times when sounds, expressions and gestures are helpful in supplement to your words of comfort and sympathy.

If you are on the phone, sometimes all a person needs to hear is a comforting pause, ‘aww’ or a ‘sigh’ to know we hear them and feel what we’re feeling, when we say “I’m sorry” as we give them our prayers and thoughts.

If you are hearing of this news in person, take a cue from animals – they emote with their faces to show empathy, sadness and somehow this is comforting to the other person that they are not alone in what they are experiencing.

If you can try showing a gesture, perhaps offer your help and see if there is anything you can do. Sometimes this alone can be comforting to the other person. Maybe it’s meeting for a cup of coffee or tea to talk or lend your ear or a hand or a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes a hug can be one of the nicest things you can offer, along with your time.

Send a care package if you can, particularly if someone is recovering from an injury or illness. Show them you care with a random act of kindness.

Life can be full of surprises. Some good. Some not so good. And it’s in these times when we mustn’t be silent but rather say and do more than our mere words can.