How to make someone feel better

Are you a good friend? Being a good friend means helping your friends when they are feeling down. Speaking English is actually about communicating effectively — knowing the right thing to say at the right time. In today’s lesson, I teach you the best English expressions you can use to console a friend or reassure a member of your family. I also give you my advice on what not to say, so that you don’t make them feel worse! I’m particularly interested in how we use language in social situations. If you are too, check out this lesson and become a better friend! http://www.engvid.com/how-to-make-someone-feel-better/

TRANSCRIPT

Hi, everyone. I’m Jade. What we’re talking about today is saying the right thing when you’ve got a friend who’s feeling down, your friend’s got a problem. We’re specifically talking about a friend who has lost a job, but you could use the same advice for a friend with a different problem; a friend with a breakup or some other emotional thing that’s happened in their life. So the formal word for this is: “consoling”, “to console” someone, but the more relaxed way could be: how to make somebody feel better about themselves or their problem.

So what should you do in this situation? Well, a lot of the time, when people have a problem, they just want to talk to someone. Maybe they’re not seeking advice. So what can you do? You can ask questions. So remember we’re talking about somebody who’s recently lost a job or is losing a job, we can ask them questions. We can say: “What are you going to do now?” Maybe your tone of voice wouldn’t be really positive like that. It would be more like: “Oh, what are you going to do now?” It would be more soft.

You could say… This is… This is an indirect question. “Have you thought about..?”, “Have you thought about training again?” This is a way of… This is a suggestion. Or you could say: “Are you looking for another job?” So this way, your friend can just start talking and maybe that will help them in their difficult situation.

Because, as a friend, you need to “be supportive”, helping your friend out when they need help. You could “be a shoulder to cry on”, that’s an idiom for somebody who just… Who just needs someone to share their feelings with. If you’re a shoulder to cry on when your friend needs you, that means that you’re a good friend. And here’s another expression: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” And it kind of has the opposite meaning to what you’d expect. My feeling is this means that you should be the kind of… Real friends are there for you when you really need them. If you’re there for people when they need you, that means that you’re a friend indeed. So if you are a friend… If you are a friend indeed, then you would ask your friend some questions to help them in their difficult situation.

When your friend has a difficult situation, watch out that you don’t give advice that they’re not asking for because a lot of the time, people don’t really want to hear your advice – that’s the truth maybe. If you ask someone for advice, it’s different. I’ve had a couple of times in my life where someone giving advice is that probably had the opposite effect from what they intended; the advice is not felt right or something I haven’t liked about the advice, and then it can be… Then it can be a problem. So if you say to your friend who’s just lost their job: “You should get down the job centre.” The job centre is where you go if you haven’t got… If you haven’t got a job in England and you need some money and support from the government. If you said to your friend: “You should get down the job centre”, they might not… They might not be… They might not want your advice right now.

Another way you would give your friend advice is if you said: “If I were you”, “If I were you, I’d go to my boss and say: ‘Look, you’re not going to fire me. All right? I dare you to fire me.'” Well, your friend might be like that, but this might not be something you want to do. Giving direct advice.

What should you do if giving direct advice could be a little bit difficult, a little bit tricky? You could try making these indirect suggestions, a bit like this one. “Have you considered… Hmm, I’m sorry to hear that you lost your job. You must be feeling awful. Have you considered calling your colleagues that you used to work with to tell them that you’re looking for a job now?” Or: “Have you thought about… Too bad you lost your job. Have you thought about becoming a movie star?” You could indirectly advise your friend to do that.

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