Sorry, but there is no script for empathy.
It's not about what you say (unless you say some of the phrases below that suck) and more about what you do (unless you suck at doing it) and how you listen (unless you suck at that, too). Most people have no clue what to say when someone is sharing their not-so-happy situation.
Here are common things you might used in the past when trying to be empathetic:
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“This could be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“Something better is around the corner, stay positive.”
Just like automatically responding with "good" (even when you're not) when someone asks you how you're doing, saying these things is how most people are programmed. They rarely do anything to make the person feel better and instead often minimizes the other person’s pain.
People going through tough times just want to be heard and validation that their situation is hard!
Try some of these phrases that can help validate their feelings:
“I’m sorry you are going through this.”
“I hate that this is happening to you.”
“That sounds really tough, I can see how that might be frustrating."
Show gratitude that the person opened up.
It takes trust to open up to someone else. You should honor that and respond with care.
Some ideas on how to express gratitude and show you care:
“It means a lot that you are trusting me with this.”
“This must be hard to talk about. Thanks for opening up to me.”
People share their struggles because they are longing for connection.
The best way to connect with someone is by listening. Show you care by asking questions such as.
“How are you feeling about this?”
“What has this been like for you?”
Don't be a fixer. I repeat: Don't be a fixer.
When things suck, most people just want to be encouraged.
When you try to “fix” the problem or force the person to look on the bright side, that is not helpful and generally adds frustration.
You can be encouraging if you're mindful...there's hope for you yet!
Try not to say, “don't worry, it will get better” or “you know what you should do,” remind them how awesome they are.
Some ideas on what to say that is encouraging:
“You are brave/strong/talented.”
“I’m here for you.”
“I’m so proud of you.”
“How can I be helpful right now?”
“What is one thing I can do for you right now?”
“I’m happy to listen any time.”
If you're looking for the world's best LinkedIn post that is not only encouraging people during this tough time but its sentiment has caught on and is spreading across the globe, here you go. Nobody knows where the original post came from but we first saw it from one of our very own Hauties, Kyle Morris of NMR Events, who is an awesome example of being a people connector. He hopes you copy this post and use it today!
If you've recently been laid off and we've worked together in the past, please get in touch with me and let me know how I can help you. Can I put you in touch with a contact? Can I write a recommendation? Can I send someone an email and put in a good word? Or just reach out if you want to vent, whether you are looking for work or not.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do
So, to follow suit, let me know what I can do for you. The Haute Dokimazo team is so grateful to have such a large community of people who are there for each other. Let me know how I can help you and invite you into our Haute family.
“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.” -Carl Rogers