On offering support

23 Jun 2024


How do you reach out to sad people?

Very few people will ask for support they don’t think they deserve, even if they are told that they can and should ask for it.

So certain phrases will fall hollow on their ears: “I’m here for whatever you need” will never land. You’ll get a kind and gracious acknowledgement of your offering, and you will never hear from them again.

Being specific reduces the chance they’ll give a conflicted “no”: “Can I help you carry some of those boxes?” is better than “Can I help with that?” is better than “Do you need help?”

If you are on the requisite level of intimacy with them or trust your gut enough, “Let me help you carry those boxes” can be ever better.

Another (counterintuitive) way to get a sad person to connect with you, is asking them for help with something specific that’s both easy and would benefit you (ideas: “come hang out while i clean”, “help me organize my clothes?”, “help me construct some ikea furniture”). By providing them with a chance to help you, you give them a way to justify having social time without having to prove their worth (they’re already providing you with instrumental value). They feel a sense of connection to you: a shared bond has formed.

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