Beautiful U: Giving advice to friends

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By Nicolette Audino

Living in a sorority house, I have come to learn that spending most of my time with 40 girls usually brings 40 problems. Whether the issue is something small, like ripping a pair of jeans, or large, such as losing a loved one, everyone has their fair share of problems. When faced with a dilemma, this is hard to remember. You tend to feel like you are the only one with a problem, and that and those around you are lucky.

In college, friends are the mentors that we tend to turn to in a bind. They are a convenient option because they live with you, and they can understand better than anyone else how you feel when you break up with your boyfriend and want him back. Friends understand your surroundings and have now become your Union family.

But what do you say to a friend who is going through a difficult time? Do you tell her what she wants to hear because she is down and you want her to feel better? Or should you be honest with her and tell her that she is wrong and has no way of fixing things?

Mix both in. Being too brutally honest or too sympathetic can be harmful to your friend. Here is a list of the top things a girl wants and needs to hear, and what she doesn’t.

DON’T: Compare her situation with yours. 

One of the worst things you can do is turn the conversation into a venting session for yourself. No matter how similar your problems may seem, your friend’s problem is what is important right now and she needs your full attention. You may have certain issues in common, but chances are, they are hugely different, so keep your own personal crisis separate.

DO:  Listen.

Sometimes people don’t even want to hear advice, preferring to simply vent. Lending an ear when a person has a problem and you lend an ear is one of the best things to do. Don’t comment, just listen.

DON’T: Tell her exactly what you would do in her position.

You can offer your opinion to a certain degree, but do not go overboard by giving her step by step instructions. People are different—some have tough skin, some are more sensitive. Everyone has different personality types and not everyone may be able to do what you can.

DO: Remind her of her positive attributes and do not put her down.

When someone is feeling down, don’t knock her further. She is your friend for a reason, so remind her why. Tell her what you love about her.

 DON’T: Gossip about her problems.

Keep things private. Let your friend know that she is safe coming to you.

DO: Be cheery and encouraging.

Remind your friend that she can’t just strike out and quit the game—she must get up to bat and try again. Go out, hang out, do whatever needs to be done. No matter what the issue is, there is something great waiting for her around the corner.

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