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💬 Tip: When a friend is upset, try asking: “Do you want to talk about it or be distracted from it?”

If a person you love comes to you with a problem, you might think the only correct response is to drop what you’re doing, grab a chair, and ask them for every single detail so you can analyze every possible solution. But that might not be what your friend needs—or even wants. A better approach is to first see what they’re looking for. Reddit user Dykejoon suggests asking: “Do you want to talk about it or be distracted from…


💡 Tip: Instead of saying “Here’s what helped me,” try asking “What’s helped you before?”

When friends and colleagues come to us with problems, we often—with the best intentions!—make it about ourselves. “Oh yes, that happened to me once. So what I did was …”

A better approach comes from author and Wharton professor Adam Grant, who suggests: Instead of saying “Here’s what helped me,” ask “What’s helped you before?” The question prompts the person to use lessons from their past to overcome the challenges they’re facing right now, a skill they can carry throughout their lives. If they’re still…


Photo: mladenbalinovac / Getty Images

The anniversary of 9/11 is punctuating a difficult week. Fires are raging. The presidential election is getting uglier. Parents are sacrificing income for at-home learning. The scourge of police violence continues.

For those with underlying stresses, from health issues to financial hardship, the state of the world may feel unbearable.

Those are the people we should be checking in on, of course. But how do you have a conversation with someone you’re concerned about in a way that doesn’t feel awkward, inadequate, or condescending?

Keep this guidance from four Forge stories in mind:

Ask a random question

In “How To Talk About Literally Anything…


It’s not your job to fix their problems

Photo: DutcherAerials/Getty Images

When a friend is going through a hard time, you likely won’t be able to make the situation better.

It can be hard to accept, but you’ll both be better off if you do. Because then you can turn to what’s within your power: You might be helpless to change your friend’s situation, but you can help them survive. You can honor and validate their loss, bear witness to their experiences and pain, let them know that they are cared about and valued, and remind them that they are not alone. …


There’s another option, called ‘tend and befriend’

Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Several years ago, I confessed to my therapist at the time that I was nervous about an upcoming flight. It was my first time traveling solo, and I couldn’t stop worrying about being left to fend for myself if something terrible happened.

My therapist’s suggestion was a simple one: If I was scared of flying alone, I shouldn’t go through it alone. “Just make friends with the person next to you.” she said. …


Small actions can have an outsize impact

An adult woman on the phone looking at her laptop on the dining table while her son uses a digital tablet.
An adult woman on the phone looking at her laptop on the dining table while her son uses a digital tablet.
Photo: 10'000 Hours/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Let’s face it: Things weren’t exactly feeling cheerful for most of us before the coronavirus hit, what with a fraught election, the climate crisis, and — well, you can choose whichever social issue currently troubles you most. There’s no shortage.

Add a global pandemic, and it’s easy to feel like we’re living in a leadership vacuum right now. Trust of elected officials is near an all-time low. Our faith in business, media, and NGOs isn’t exactly soaring, either.

But too often, people take an overly narrow view of what leadership really is. At the risk of sounding like one of…


Try to collect as many of them as possible. Really.

Photo: Nicolas McComber / Getty Images

When I didn’t get a job I thought I was a shoo-in for, I didn’t call a friend to vent my frustration. I didn’t ask for a pep talk. In fact, I told exactly no one what had happened, instead falling into a private tailspin of doubt: I really thought I’d be chosen? How mortifying. Keeping my rejection a secret seemed like the best way to protect myself from further humiliation.

In hindsight, though, I wasn’t protecting my feelings so much as deepening the emotional wound. I was letting someone else’s decision determine my sense of self-worth. But I don’t…

Forge

A publication from Medium on personal development.

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