Una's Blog


Una’s little world 20. Saying the right thing





by Una Hearne.

You know that situation where someone close to you is dealing with something big? Bereavement, divorce, job loss, illness… You want to help, you really want to say the right thing. But either you have no idea what to say, or anything you say seems to be wrong and makes things worse!

There is no magic answer. Sorry! Everyone is different, needs different things and you are not psychic. And that’s OK. Some of us want to talk, some don’t. Some want to melt down and sob, some want to get on with business as usual. Some want to stay in denial, some want to face the truth fully. You don’t get to judge how other people handle anything. We deal with things differently and there is no right or wrong way.

Having said that, I can offer a foolproof way to ensure that whatever you say or do will have a positive, helpful impact. Yes, really. Foolproof. It is not always the easiest thing as it requires a high degree of self awareness and absolute honesty with yourself, so this isn’t for everyone. And that’s OK too. If you can’t do it, forgive yourself for being human and do your best. You best is always good enough.

So if you want to help other people: be crystal clear in your heart and soul about your intention. Your true intentions are driven by one of the two basic emotions, love or fear (and usually a confusing combination of both). So if you want to be there for someone, leave your fears outside and bring only love. This will ensure you have a positive effect even if you say and do all the wrong things. Our real feelings and intent communicate to others whether we are conscious of them or not.

Here are some clues (in no particular order) to help you distinguish which state you are in:

A state of Fear includes:  Judgement; Assumptions; Projecting your own ‘stuff’; Giving the impression it’s the end of the world; Taking inappropriate responsibility or control; Thinking you know better than they do; Interrogating them; Needing to fix the problem or worse, the person; Imposing your opinion; Needing to be right; Needing them to comfort you.  It doesn’t matter how nicely you do any of these – they are all about Your fear and won’t help.

A state of Love includes:  Making it clear you want to be there for them and help if you can; Giving the impression that everything will be ok at some point; Listening to understand and validate; Supporting their choices and decisions; Knowing that they know what is best for them; Asking them what they want or need; Recognising you can’t compare situations; Letting them know they are so much more than just this issue. It doesn’t matter how badly you communicate any of these – people feel love.

It is their journey, you can’t go through this for them or tell them how to do it. But you can walk beside them for some of the way and that makes all the difference. Don’t take my word for it, try it and see.



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