Comforting an upset (female) friend

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Jaejoongfangirl
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27 Mar 2011, 5:37 pm

I was watching Modern Family (a TV show, pretty funny sometimes) the other day and there was an episode where the father (Phil) redeemed a coupon (that was about to expire) for a mani-pedi since his wife said that she was too busy to use it.
As the only male in the salon he ends up having a great time. He talks to all the women in there and gives them advice (from a male perspective) on relationships etc. and everyone is having a good time but when he describes trying to help his wife when she has problems, all the women reprimand him for the way he handles it.
They told him that when his wife is upset and comes to him she doesn't want advice on how to improve a situation, she just wants comfort and support from him.


Anyway, I know this is just a sitcom ploy and a vast generalization about women (I mean, look at me) but I have realized recently that when people (mainly female friends in my experience) are complaining/upset about an issue, I also tend to offer advice on how to "make it better" or why "it isn't so bad" since I don't really see how just listening to them will improve anything. I mean, whatelse do you say in response?
Example:
Friend: "I'm so upset that I didn't do as well as I thought I did on the last spanish test... I made so many small, dumb mistakes. This class was supposed to help my GPA."
Me: "It happens... What kind of mistakes were they?" ... "Oh, yeah, that is unfair, I'm so sorry. Maybe it'll go better next time, I mean, at least you'll know to look out for those tricks next time."

My response here looks really kind and useful to me. I know that if I was in the same situation, knowing that I'm in an advantageous postion for the next test would help me feel better and get my focus back. But I don't know if everyone feels the same way. I can understand how, if I had replied "You did well on all the quizzes right? Your GPA will be fine," then that kind of sounds like I'm belittling the issue that is upsetting her which might not be the most comforting thing to do. Maybe my reply here does the same thing? I guess I can see how it might be taken the wrong way...


I really try to be helpful, but I think that being less helpful might be more appreciated by other people.... I don't have many close friends outside of my family, and I think that the way I handle situations like this probably doesn't help - makes me seem a bit cold, like a bad friend.

I feel like other people here probably relate to my problem. If anyone has advice to give on how to better handle friends that are upset it would be appreciated. (:



EDIT: I reread this and I know that, for my personal situation, this should be in the friendships subforum, but in the context of the TVshow and in the context of talking to women specifically I think that for a lot of people it is more of a dating related issue. I posted it here without thinking and now I'm not too sure where it belongs - feel free to move it if it seems out of place here.



Peko
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27 Mar 2011, 6:43 pm

A general rule I use for comforting people is to start with just being there for them and making it clear that you're willing to talk/listen. Avoid giving advice unless the person has calmed down and show concern for them rather than being a know-it-all bossy piece of crap (and I'm saying this cause I hate bossy people).


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Joker
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28 Mar 2011, 12:49 pm

Peko wrote:
A general rule I use for comforting people is to start with just being there for them and making it clear that you're willing to talk/listen. Avoid giving advice unless the person has calmed down and show concern for them rather than being a know-it-all bossy piece of crap (and I'm saying this cause I hate bossy people).


I agree with Peko



Chronos
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29 Mar 2011, 2:21 am

If I present a problem to someone, I want a solution. If someone presents a problem to me, I assume they want a solution, or are informing me so that I will be aware of their state of mind or factors which may impact their life dynamics and proceed to interact with them accordingly.



bee33
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29 Mar 2011, 2:30 am

I have heard the advice you mention from the TV show as well, but I find it hard to implement. If someone I am very close to has a problem like the one you describe, like a disappointment of some kind, then I am able to just be there for them rather than offer advice. But if it's someone I don't know as well, then I just don't know what to say, and I tend to give more concrete replies, like "You can take the test again" or whatever. I understand that it's preferable to many people to just be acknowledged rather than advised, but I find that it's difficult to do and doesn't come naturally.