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9 Ways to Be There for a Friend, Without Giving Advice

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201410/9-ways-be-there-friend-without-giving-advice

psychologytoday.com

9 Ways to Be There for a Friend, Without Giving Advice
Some years after my decision to divorce, I thanked my parents for not pressuring me one way or the other on the "stay-or-go" issue. Making that hard decision myself really forced me to grow, I told them. My dad replied, "We knew there would be pain whether you got divorced or didn't.

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Just be there

Listen. Your very presence can be a comfort to a friend. Sometimes keeping someone company while they go through their trials is a gift in itself.

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Empathize

Empathize

Try, “You are in a tough situation"; Sounds like you’re between a rock and a hard place"; or "I’m so sorry you have to face this kind of problem right now.”

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Use the skill of tentativeness

“Tentative” means “not fully worked out, uncertain, or hesitant." 

Instead of assuming an expert stance, offer observations with a “beginner’s mind.” For example, say, “I’m not sure, but perhaps you worry that…”; or, “If you felt comfortable doing it, you could consider trying ….” 

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Tell a story

Instead of giving direct advice, tell a brief story about what happened to you or someone else that could shed light on your friend’s situation.

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Expand your friend’s perspective

Expand your friend’s perspective

If your friend seems to be afflicted with tunnel vision, help them expand their perspective. You could say, “There could be another way to look at this. What about…?” 

You could also expand perspective by pointing out the consequences of their actions to their future self: “This may seem like a good idea at this moment, but how will you feel in a week?” 

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Ask identity questions

Identity questions help your friend get in touch with the values that make them the person they are. 

“What is really important to you?"; “What kind of life do you want to lead?”; and, "What kind of person do you want to become?"

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Give advice

If you feel compelled to give direct advice, do it. 

Some friends truly want and need to hear your opinion. Honest feedback, even when it may be hard to hear, can be just the tonic they need. Emphasize that your friend can take your advice or leave it.

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