Times are tough already, but now that the days are getting colder and darker earlier, it’s bringing even more sadness for many. After looking after yourself, it’s really important to look after the people that you care about too and support them as much as you can. Sometimes it’s difficult to do so and you may not know exactly where to start, especially in a friendship built on banter. Here are some tips that you might find useful on how to be a supportive friend:
Check up on them
Your friends may find it difficult to openly speak to you about something that’s bothering them, especially if it’s out of the blue. They may feel like they don’t want to burden you. Asking someone about their day or how they are doing might not get them to pour their heart out, but it’s reminder that you’re thinking about them and that you care, which may encourage them to open up to you. We all know that speaking to someone is a great way to get things off your chest and make you feel better, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may seem.
Listening is a skill that is difficult to master. When listening to a fried, it’s easy to jump in with an experience of how you relate to something they’re facing, however, this is rarely something people want to hear when receiving advice. After all, everyone’s experiences are different. Discussing your experiences takes away from the person you’re listening to and puts the conversation in your hands. Try your best to avoid this unless they ask for your experience, advice or opinion. Instead, “I’m here to listen” and “how can I help?” are great ways to be open about a conversation and understand what your pal needs from you.
Be careful with banter
Many friendships are built on humour which can include making jokes and laughing together. Just be careful that when doing this, you’re laughing together with someone and not at them. Sometimes you might make a joke you think is funny because your mate laughed at it, but they may be hiding the fact it hurt them. If you know you’ve made a joke about something that they’re insecure about, it’s best to apologise and make sure not to joke about it again.
Learn to say sorry
Making mistakes is a common part of life. However, being defensive about something you’re done is never a good move. It is hard and may feel unnatural but make an effort to genuinely apologise if you’ve done something to upset your friends. It’ll go a long way.
Spend time together
Spending time with your friends is really difficult with coronavirus restrictions but there are still loads of ways that you can hang out virtually. Whether it’s watching a movie together on Netflix, having a pub quiz with your whole group, catching up, playing video games (like among us), there’s lots of ways you can be with your pals and still have a good time even if you aren’t together physically.
Share the good as well as the bad
If you’re one of those friends that keeps venting about things that are difficult, remember to share the good with your friends too. They want to hear that you’re doing well too!
Deal with arguments
Pretending problems with your friends don’t exist will only hurt your friendship. Setting aside time and energy to go over an issue is really important. Remember, you aren’t fighting your friend, it’s you and your friend against a problem.
Be open to change
Everyone changes, and sometimes, change is difficult to manage. Your friends will change, grow and adapt, and so will you. To be a good friend, be supportive of these changes, whether this be with their political view, religious beliefs or career aspirations.