Here is what’s most important when comforting others

There is no shortage of examples showing how stereotypical male and female conversations break down due to differences in communication style. Getting past the stereotypes though, a person’s emotional state, as well as their intentions for communicating, are important but not always obvious.

It’s critical to realize that there are multiple states of distress, so being helpful depends less on their identities and attributes (men/women, young/old, communication style) and more on their present state.

They may feel bad and NOT want to feel better (just how quickly do you want to feel “good” about the death of a loved one?) At times it’s best to validate and allow people to express their grief.  On the other hand, they may be feeling horrible and ready to feel better, in which case advice will be more welcomed.

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