5 tips for listening to your friend who is sharing something personal

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A friend sharing something personal needs to be taken seriously because they have chosen to trust you. Here are 5 ways you can help them.

Take the person seriously

When someone shares details about a heavy situation, a first reaction may be to think that it's a joke, that it's for attention, or that the person is being manipulative. But most of the time, that is not the case! Avoid questioning their pain or comparing it to what someone else is going through. Something shared in confidence should always be taken seriously.


Listen to them

This includes being there for the other person (being present in body and mind) and asking open-ended questions or phrasing things so that the other person will talk more.


Acknowledge their pain

Point out what you see or hear: "I feel like you've changed lately... are you okay? Do you want to tell me about it?” Or "It's okay to feel sad when you're in this kind of a situation. I'm here for you.”


Show your concern

The goal is to make the other person feel that you care about what’s happening to them. Try saying "I’m concerned about what you’re telling me, I can see that it’s really not going well," or "I'm a little worried about this, I don't like it when my friends aren't doing well.”


Direct them to help

A friend may ask us to keep a secret and even threaten us to keep it quiet. When this happens, we can explain our discomfort with promising something when we don't know what the secret is about. We can also promise what’s possible for us, like "I promise I won't tell our friends.”


It’s important to be clear that it will not be possible for you to keep the secret to yourself. It is important to speak with a trusted person, and you can help them choose that person, or go to them together. For example, you can say "I don't want to leave you alone in this situation, it’s important to find someone who can help you."


What if the person refuses help?

If the person refuses to go to an adult, remind them of your concern and tell them that you will continue to be there for them. Be firm with the fact that they need to talk to a professional. At this point, you have to accept that the other person may be angry, but you should still go to an adult because you can't carry this alone – it’s the best thing to do. Don't hesitate to contact us to talk about it, we’re here for you.