Talk Less, Listen More.


What is the best way to help someone who is feeling low, struggling emotionally or perhaps even clinically depressed?

Elizabeth Bernstein says:

  • Start by asking, “How are you today?”
  • Listen to what he has to say. Don’t tell the person what you think is wrong.  Don’t analyze.  Don’t minimize his pain by saying things like:  “Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” “There are people worse off,” “You need a hobby,” or “Snap out of it.”
  • Listen to what he has to say. “A depressed person wants most of all to be heard, respected and gently loved,” Dr. Rottenberg says.  “And they want to be reassured that the friend isn’t going to leave.”
  • Don’t wait for your depressed friend to reach out to you. They probably cannot and will not.  Invite him to meals or other activities even if he doesn’t want to talk.  Send texts or leave a message with no response required.
  • Simple, clear messages work best. Dr. Rottenberg suggests to say, “I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain.  I may not have all the answers, but I want you to know that I am here for you as long as it takes.”

By Elizabeth Bernstein from her article in the Wall Street Journal titled “To Be a Friend in a Time of Need, Talk Less, Listen More.”

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