We know, life is tough. Sometimes it feels too hard to continue.
When difficult situations arise, the support of family, friends and the community can be a lifeline.
Knowing how to make meaningful connections and support our loved ones may seem like a no-brainer. However, statistics show that when it comes to checking in with those we care about, many of us don’t know where to start.
If you feel unsure, firstly, you are not alone. Secondly, there is hope! You can develop the communication skills that one day may save a life.
Here are 5 ways to meaningfully connect and support loved ones in hard times.
Being available to just hang out is vital for developing a strong connection. This can be difficult not only because we live busy lives, but also because we all have varying interests and want to spend our rest and recharge time doing different things. However, you don’t need to spend all day together for a connection to be meaningful.
Heartfelt conversations often happen in the most unexpected places. Being ready to chat whenever the opportunity arises is not always convenient but if we set our agenda aside, we can experience moments of connection that really bring us closer.
Stephen J Convey says,“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Often seeking to understand means we must lay down our opinions, assumptions and expectations.
We must realise that it is important to give someone space and time to finish sentences and say what they really think. Asking clarifying questions instead of giving answers opens the conversation and allows the other person to explore their thoughts and feelings. Remain non-judgemental.
Showing someone that you are there for them can not be faked. Being present and giving them your full attention is the only way to make them feel seen and heard. We can do this by looking them in the eye when they are talking to us, turning our bodies towards them, and using verbal cues to show them we understand.
It is important to remain unaggravated by their reaction and normalise showing emotion. Help them to elaborate on what they are feeling by acknowledging what they have been through. Even if you have had a similar experience, do not assume you know exactly how they feel.
Often supporting a loved one means giving them space to look after themselves so they can heal. Lightening their load by offering to pick up the kids, do laundry, cook a meal or shop for them can strengthen your relationship.
They may need to see that you care and are willing to assist them with seemingly unimportant things before they feel they can be vulnerable enough to share their heart with you.
Checking in via a text message should not be underestimated. Many people prefer texting to talking on the phone. This is because texting gives them time to think about their response. They do not have to be concerned about how they appear and can concentrate on communicating more authentically.
However, it is important to note that it is easy to misunderstand another via text resulting in miscommunication. Texting can become messy because we can not decipher someone's tone or emotion. If they share something that feels concerning, ask to meet up and speak face to face.
Featured photo by Ales Maze