How to be supportive

Whether someone has received bad news, feels they did bad on an exam, is just feeling low or recently lost someone. It can be difficult to know what to say. Many of us want to ease their struggle so will say things like: ‘I’m sure it’ll be grand.’ ‘I imagine it’s not as bad as you think.’ ‘They’re in a better place.’

The problem with all three of those is that you aren’t really hearing what is being said and supporting the person who has shared it. A lot of the time there is nothing that can be said to make the other person feel better.


What they need is support.  They need to know that in whatever they are feeling they are not alone.

The comic in this post was originally aimed at those with depression. However, I feel like it can be used as a great example of what we all need every now and then. Notice the person giving the support doesn’t say anything in hopes to make the other feel better. They are just there and that can be enough.

The next time someone tells you they are sad, mad, embarrassed or experiencing any of the possible combinations of human emotion. Before you decide what to say, ask them what they need and give them that. Being supportive is about helping the other person to feel better. It’s not about knowing what to say.

“Love would never leave us alone” – Bob Marley

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