Sympathy, Empathy, Encouragement!

encourage6When you see someone who you know has gone through some stuff it is natural to want to comfort them.  We want them to know they are not alone and we are there if they need us.   A lot of times someone will approach you and say something like ” Wow! You look terrible! I know this ______ is taking its toll on you.” or “Man, you look so tired! I know you are just worn out from all this _________.”  I know people mean well and say this in a way to comfort you, to commiserate with your plight.  I get that.

But………..

What if you had just taken the time to refresh yourself and you’re feeling particularly upbeat and good?  Because they do not know what is happening with you, I mean they do know that you’re going through stuff; which is why they want to say the aforementioned “wow!…….”  but they do not know what has happened to you in the last few moments. Their good intentions could have just taken the wind right out of your sails!

The point I am trying to get to is this:

While sympathy makes sense I think from here on out I am going to make an effort to encourage and not sympathize. I just think it makes more sense. I think it’s a win/win if I encourage them with my words. Win/win? Yes! I always feel better when I build people up and I know they usually do too!

If I approach those who I know are going through some stuff with an attitude of building them up, maybe turning around my comments to be more like ” Wow! You look great! I would never know you are going through___________.” (fill in the blank with whatever the issue is.)  I mean obviously common sense needs to prevail here-  I may not say something like this to someone going through certain things, like a death or something. Sometimes, even in those tragic times, some people may be helped more from an encouraging comment (about how well they are doing) than being told how tired they look. But common sense needed! Bottom line if I know someone being put through the ringer at work or with family, etc…. I think from now on I will tell them how fantastic they look, how brilliantly they handle the stress!

It’s just me but I think it will work.

****Yes, I know there are some people out there who need to be told how terrible or worn-out they look! Hearing these types of negative comments fuels their need for attention which makes them feel better. I get it!  I guess you can’t win every time!

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