Everyone wants to be a better friend. You want the people in your life to feel cared for. You want them to know that they are important to you. Here’s a framework for how to listen in to a friend to show you care.
- Shut up. People love to talk about themselves. People need to talk about themselves. Ask, then be quiet and let them answer.
- Flesh it out. First, you get the narrative. “He broke up with me last Friday.” Wonder how it was to hear that. Then you’ll get feelings. “I was knocked over. I didn’t see it coming.” Or maybe, “We’d been on the rocks for a while, so I expected it.”
- Echo the feelings. “I hate it when they break up that way.” Or, “just ‘cause you expected it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”
- Air the feelings. Ask how it is with them now and echo that. If it’s still shocking and hurting, remind your friend that it takes time to metabolize a break up. If s/he’s moved on a bit, then notice that too.
- Touch. Squeeze your friend’s arm or give a hug. Whatever feels right to you.
- Affirm. Sometimes folks need to know that others hope for good things for them. Don’t let all the friendship happen between your ears. Go ahead and say: “You are very special, and I want you to be with someone who knows that.”