One way or the other, every person has a period of disappointment: in such time, there ought to be people that we can lean on – for consolation, and often, these people tend to be our family members, partners, friends, and colleagues.
The situation is that of give and take: when you are disappointed people console you, and when any one (that is close to you) is also disappointed, you would try consoling the person.
Yet, you must avoid being emotionally attached to the people that you are consoling – for some reasons.
According to an article, Emotional support in a crisis, by the British Red Cross, “Being with someone who is experiencing acute emotional upset happens to most people at some time. A common feeling is wanting to help… but not being sure what to do for the best. Being awkward and anxious around someone who is distressed doesn’t help anyone much”…
The consolation aspect
Somebody that is disappointed is emotionally destabilised. To this, the British Red Cross says, “Some people think that a comforting cuddle will let someone know that you care, that you appreciate what they are going through and that you are there to help. Unfortunately, it is not that straightforward. You might make someone feel physically awkward, restricted in moving around. They might be constrained from expressing themselves or even in thinking properly. In other words, you are bringing added discomfort. A touch of the arm might show someone you care. But don’t go further than that unless someone has indicated they would like it. Luckily, there are better ways to show someone that they are not alone.”
So you see that being emotional does not help while trying to console a disappointed person?
In the case of somebody – having trouble in marriage or relationship and you are offering a cuddle consolation: you are only telling such to abandon his or her marriage/relationship and come for you.
What to do to avoid being emotional
You are to first present the word of God in prayer, and ensure that you are both not alone behind closed door.
You should start with the word of God, because it is a powerful tool to break every barrier. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13, NKJV).
However, there are professional steps to follow but after these steps, your words of encouragement should find root in the word of God.
The steps are:
- Carry out a quick but thoughtful assessment of the situation.
- Notice who else is around. Are they likely to be helpful, or otherwise?
- Then, crucially, check yourself. Think about what shape you are in. How have you been affected by the situation? The aim is to be calm. If you are calm, you can help others. If you aren’t, you probably can’t, at the moment.
- If you are going to help, introduce yourself. Say your name, your position, if relevant, and what your intentions are.
- Then calmly say what you are going to do. This might be as simple as, I’m going to sit next to you and we can talk about the best way to help.
- You can then say what you notice – which is why it is important to do the observation above first. You might say that that person seems very upset, or has fallen, or seems to be bleeding.
- Ask how you can help.
- Ask what has happened, how they feel, what they need.
- Bear in mind that you may not be able to make the problem go away. What the person is dealing with might be very upsetting. What they want to put things right might be impossible.
- You might be seen as a threat, so keep at a reasonable distance. Don’t crowd their space but show that you want to help.
We would better look at some things that you should avoid too, when consoling a person.
The British Red Cross says that, one should observe the following:
- Don’t try to jolly people up and get them to look at the funny side. They might do that later, but your task is to respect how they’re feeling now and help them deal with it, not suppress it.
- Don’t say things like, “I know just how you are feeling, just the same happened to me”. This isn’t empathy, it is more like boasting. It is very alienating and irritating. Can you imagine anyone thinking, “Oh, now I feel a lot better, knowing that someone else was distressed and upset in the past”? It is best avoided.
- Don’t hurry the next action. Always remember that a person who is upset is vulnerable and probably not in a state for successful decision-making.