Page 1 of 1 [ 5 posts ] 

11krage
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 1 Dec 2008
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 132

30 Mar 2009, 6:21 pm

Ok, so growing up I learnt through painful trial and error that when a person is crying, hurt or both I am not supposed to interfere with them. This includes actions such as hovering or attempting to comfort (likely because I am extremely bad at it). In those situations I am supposed to either give them space to sob and not make them self concious by appearing to pay attention to them, get one of their friends or inform someone in charge, ask if I can get them anything/one or just leave them in peace and quiet to get themselves together.

Whenever I dared go outside these rules I am told to go away, swore at, told a picture would last longer, or given enough firm hints that I get I am not allowed to be anywhere in the presence of a crying person. I hasten to add that these result from glances in passing, merely hanging out were a person decides to break down and some I knew very well.

Up till recently I have complied with these rules thinking that crying was a very self concious thing people did not want attention, and certainly not my clumsy comforting during. Then my friend started crying while we were waiting outside a lecture room due to a presentation she was anxious about. I did all the right things, kept a distance of maybe a metre, averted my eyes respectfully and saw my other friend a little distance away who must have already known so I didn't need to inform her

Feeling of course like I wanted to help, I went to my other friend and made sure they were up to speed on an idea for the presentation she had talked to me about ealier, but in her state I wasn't sure she'd addressed the others. I made sure everyone was up to speed on the structure, content and everything possible to make sure there were no more suprises about the presentation.

Later in the day my crying friend talked to me about my other friend. She said that when she had started to lose it, she had walked off and left her. She said that in that situation it wasn't nice to do that. She said "I would never leave my friend if they were in that sort of state"

Not good at hints, but this feels strongly of one. Also this new rule intrigues me, as it goes against everything I have learnt so far. What do you do in that situation? Was I supposed to comfort her? If so how?

The only way I know how to comfort someone is to ask whats wrong, but in that situation I knew already what was wrong. When do you comfort someone, and when don't you?


_________________
'Its always the quiet ones' :

http://the-quiet-ones.blogspot.com/


Ladarzak
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

User avatar

Joined: 9 Mar 2007
Age: 60
Gender: Female
Posts: 337
Location: Vancouver, Canada

30 Mar 2009, 7:07 pm

> When do you comfort someone, and when don't you?

If it's someone I don't know, like at work, I wou ld steer clear.

If it's my sister, I would steer clear, as she would likely hit me or scream. (Keep in mind my sister is 40s like me, but nuts.)

If it's my mother, I put my arm around her. In past, I've asked if it's okay if I put my arm around someone. They nod or shake their head. I put a caring sound in my voice when I ask the question.

If it's my husband, I reach slowly towards hugging him, in case he doesn't want to be touched right now. Sometimes I would want an arm around me, sometimes not.

You do the right thing by caring. You can't read their mind, so people have to just give a hint what they want. Not everyone wants the same thing, or the same thing every time.



Dentu
Raven
Raven

User avatar

Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Age: 34
Gender: Male
Posts: 116
Location: Central VA, USA

30 Mar 2009, 7:17 pm

Comfort them. They might need to vent, they might need to break down and cry, they might need a good joke or a friendly face. Read the situation first, then react. Don't ask what's wrong. Ask if they're okay. Ask if you can help.

And maybe they'll lash out. But don't get defensive about it. They're upset and stressed and high strung, so they might overreact to the tiniest thing. They don't mean it. Just being kind even when they're at their worst is exactly what they need.



LawnNinja
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

User avatar

Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Age: 44
Gender: Female
Posts: 22
Location: Florida, USA

30 Mar 2009, 7:32 pm

This is a complex one. Is it possible that in the past when you have been told to go away when someone was crying that you had done or said something to trigger the person's crying in the first place? I don't mean to upset you with this question, I am just trying to understand.

I know that when I cry, because someone has done or said something that was mean, I do not want them anywhere near me. At the same time, anyone else who offers to comfort me I would probably accept their hugs and consoling words (of course, I prefer to cry it out by myself, and I try to only cry when by myself, but on occasion I have broken down in front of other people).

Is it possible your reaction while determining how you should respond or while looking for your escape (the escape you have learned to take through experience) is causing some of the confusion for the upset person and causing some anger or a desire to be left alone?

In today's situation, you mentioned that your friend was anxious about the presentation. In that situation, it would have been ok (I don't know her, or you, or your relationship, but speaking fairly generally) to ask if she needed a hug, or even just putting a hand on her shoulder. It sounds like you were calm and very on top of the presentation information, in this situation I think your friend may have been looking for someone to say "I understand, it is going to be ok" when people get anxious sometimes taking deep breaths helps. I tell my son to take a deep breath, and let it out very slowly. If you knew the material she was anxious about it would have been appropriate to ask if she would like to review it with you or she could practice with you (if you had the time of course). That probably would have helped her relax.

Exiting and finding another person and avoiding the crying person, if they are crying for a reason unrelated to you (there are exceptions, I'm sure, but I'll keep it simple) can seem cold, uncaring, and it can even make them cry more or make them more sad and distressed. It's hard to gauge, but when you don't know what to do you can always say "is there anything I can do to help?"
and the person will tell you, especially if they know that you have difficulty with this sort of thing. Sometimes they need a hug, sometimes they do need to be left alone, sometimes they need someone to listen to their problem so they don't feel so alone, sometimes they need a glass of water... I have a friend that simply hands the person a tissue and says "do you want to talk about it?"

It is best though, to not speak to the crying person from across a room - that does call attention to them, which may embarrass them, but you can move closer to them and ask. For example, if my friend started crying and they were sitting in a chair with their head in their hands, I would probably crouch down in front of them and look at their face and say "is there anything I can do?"

I often feel very awkward when people I am not very familiar with cry, suddenly, in front of me, so I try to make myself useful- "Is there anything I can do? Can I get you some tissues or a glass of water?" and when I come back I ask if they want to talk about it. I think in many cases, it's important to just listen and not say much of anything...

It is a complicated emotion/situation to handle... I think it's important to figure out if you are the trigger of the crying, if you can. If you are then I think much can be learned from what made the person cry, and I don't know of many people who wouldn't understand a communication difference. At the same time that moment is not the time to go into an indepth explanation.

I hope this helps. I'm happy you asked this!



11krage
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 1 Dec 2008
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 132

01 Apr 2009, 8:36 am

LawnNinja wrote:
This is a complex one. Is it possible that in the past when you have been told to go away when someone was crying that you had done or said something to trigger the person's crying in the first place? I don't mean to upset you with this question, I am just trying to understand.

I know that when I cry, because someone has done or said something that was mean, I do not want them anywhere near me. At the same time, anyone else who offers to comfort me I would probably accept their hugs and consoling words (of course, I prefer to cry it out by myself, and I try to only cry when by myself, but on occasion I have broken down in front of other people).

Is it possible your reaction while determining how you should respond or while looking for your escape (the escape you have learned to take through experience) is causing some of the confusion for the upset person and causing some anger or a desire to be left alone?

In today's situation, you mentioned that your friend was anxious about the presentation. In that situation, it would have been ok (I don't know her, or you, or your relationship, but speaking fairly generally) to ask if she needed a hug, or even just putting a hand on her shoulder. It sounds like you were calm and very on top of the presentation information, in this situation I think your friend may have been looking for someone to say "I understand, it is going to be ok" when people get anxious sometimes taking deep breaths helps. I tell my son to take a deep breath, and let it out very slowly. If you knew the material she was anxious about it would have been appropriate to ask if she would like to review it with you or she could practice with you (if you had the time of course). That probably would have helped her relax.

Exiting and finding another person and avoiding the crying person, if they are crying for a reason unrelated to you (there are exceptions, I'm sure, but I'll keep it simple) can seem cold, uncaring, and it can even make them cry more or make them more sad and distressed. It's hard to gauge, but when you don't know what to do you can always say "is there anything I can do to help?"
and the person will tell you, especially if they know that you have difficulty with this sort of thing. Sometimes they need a hug, sometimes they do need to be left alone, sometimes they need someone to listen to their problem so they don't feel so alone, sometimes they need a glass of water... I have a friend that simply hands the person a tissue and says "do you want to talk about it?"

It is best though, to not speak to the crying person from across a room - that does call attention to them, which may embarrass them, but you can move closer to them and ask. For example, if my friend started crying and they were sitting in a chair with their head in their hands, I would probably crouch down in front of them and look at their face and say "is there anything I can do?"

I often feel very awkward when people I am not very familiar with cry, suddenly, in front of me, so I try to make myself useful- "Is there anything I can do? Can I get you some tissues or a glass of water?" and when I come back I ask if they want to talk about it. I think in many cases, it's important to just listen and not say much of anything...

It is a complicated emotion/situation to handle... I think it's important to figure out if you are the trigger of the crying, if you can. If you are then I think much can be learned from what made the person cry, and I don't know of many people who wouldn't understand a communication difference. At the same time that moment is not the time to go into an indepth explanation.

I hope this helps. I'm happy you asked this!


Thanks that helps a lot. I don't think I'm the cause of the crying before, the people that I knew well who cried had generally talked about some sort of problems shortly before, divorced parents, exam stress, etc. Then again, I do find myself to be a little dense at times when it comes to what people are feeling.

I was so sure I was doing the nicest thing before for the person by giving them space. So thanks for all the feedback and I hope to get it right in the future. Though its a little worrying that I'm 21 and still just finding out these things about how to deal with people.


_________________
'Its always the quiet ones' :

http://the-quiet-ones.blogspot.com/