Ask Angel – Comforting Friends

How do you comfort/support friends when they are sad or in a bad mood? – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Comforting and supporting your friends when they are not feeling their best is key to a successful friendship, as that is when they need you the most. It can be difficult to know what to say or how to react, and how to not make the situation worse in your attempt to better it.

The first thing you should know is what they need to feel better, which can only be determined by asking them. Usually, I ask my friends whether they want to talk about the reason they are sad or whether they want to talk about other things to distract themselves from that.

If they do want to talk about their problems, make sure to be a good listener, and pay full attention to them. Do not steer the conversation away from their problem, and remember to be completely selfless as they currently need your support. Never try to make the discussion about yourself. You can always try to give tips if you have been in the same situation, but do not completely retell the time when you had that issue. Try to empathize with them and ensure that they feel heard and cared for. After you and your friend have this conversation, follow up with them and assure them that you are still there to talk about it. Find out if they feel better, or if they need further assistance and comfort.

If they do not want to talk about why they are sad, you can always casually talk to them to make them feel like everything is okay. Try not to make it painfully obvious that you are attempting to distract them from the issue, and truly try to have a spontaneous conversation that you would have any other day. Try to not speak about anything that could lead them back to their dilemma, as they do not want to be reminded of how they are upset. Asking about everyday topics like schoolwork, other friends, tv shows, and movies are great things to keep their mind off of the troubling issue. Assure them that it is okay to deal with issues how they see fit, and that taking as long as they need before confronting the issue is okay too. 

Helping your friends when they are in times of trouble is an essential skill to have in order to maintain a healthy friendship. Your friends will be so grateful for your compassion and will hopefully reciprocate your support when you need it most. Whether you decide to let them vent and consult you on their issue, or distract them until they feel comfortable discussing it, both tactics should help you cheer them up. Always be positive, encouraging, and tell your friends how much you appreciate them!

Lots of love,