if I'm expressing some bad feeling, the two responses that help me the most are:
1) expressing specific positive feelings about me or
2) telling me about how you relate (without assuming that your solution would work for me)
So, if you say something like "I relate to this because [describe experience and feelings about it]," that feels like you are engaging with my experience without assuming that you fully understand my situation. It gives me room to explain without having to correct assumptions -- and there are almost always factors that I haven't mentioned because when I am upset, I am not as thorough in my explanations.
If you share your experience without making a conclusion about mine, that gives me the chance to comfortably apply your wisdom or reject it as not applying to me. If it is your experience you can't be wrong: but if you assume that our similar experiences are the same and so your solution will work for me, you *can* be wrong.
(this is an edited post from 4 years ago)
[original post 4 years ago]
September 24, 2015 at 1:45 PM
A thought I shared recently which would be helpful broadly: if I'm expressing some bad feeling, the thing that helps me the most is when people express positive feelings about me or tell me about how they have felt the same.
So, if you expressed this as something like "I felt similarly in [situation] and here is what I did" without applying it to me, that gives me the chance to apply your wisdom or reject it as not applying to me, without having to tell you that you are wrong. If it is your experience you can't be wrong: but if you go ahead and apply it to me you can be wrong. There are almost always factors that I haven't mentioned because when I am upset, I am not as thorough in my explanations.