Comforting a friend

Comforting a friend

When a friend is upset, you’ve probably wondered how best to make them feel better. Let them vent? Offer chocolate? Give them space to have a good cry? One study suggests the most powerful way to soothe a person’s feelings is to start a conversation.

Words play a powerful role in shaping our emotions because humans are a social species.

Our brains are finely attuned to information we get from others, and we constantly use it as feedback to change our behaviours and responses. But the words we use to comfort others matter, as some forms of verbal support are more helpful than others.

One consistent finding from the research is that telling someone they shouldn’t feel so bad typically makes them feel worse.

Validation however was the clear winner. Affirming comments like, “I can imagine that was difficult,” prove more comforting than other kinds of feedback to help people change their thinking about the problem.

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