Several months ago, I got my first really mean YouTube comment. Up until that point, I’d gotten some thumbs down, as well as my fair share of snarkiness. But this was the first comment that really stung.
So I did what almost anyone would do. I picked up the phone and texted my people. But their response wasn’t quite what I expected, and I was reminded just how often we get it wrong when it comes to helping people through a tough situation.
In today’s video, I’m sharing the number one (and really simple) thing to do when someone comes to you with a problem. If you’ve got people in your life that you care about and want to be helpful to, you can’t miss this video. It’s a good one!
As you heard in the video, figuring out what to do when someone comes to you with a problem is simple. Validate, validate, validate. Oh wait, did I mention how important it is to validate? Acknowledge their experience. Hear what they’re feeling. Dig deep, and flex your empathy muscles.
When it comes down to it, I firmly believe that what we want as humans is to be seen and heard. So when someone comes to you with a problem, resist the urge to jump in and offer suggestions. Suspend judgment, feedback, or ideas. Don’t offer that positive spin just yet. Just listen and validate.
Think about the last time you went to your partner or a friend about something stressful or frustrating. My guess is that you didn’t necessarily need advice, at least not right away. What you wanted was for someone to listen, to really hear you, and validate your experience. To acknowledge how difficult it must be, how frustrated you must feel, or how scary it must be to be in your situation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that when someone comes to you with a problem that it’s bad to offer advice or feedback. But don’t start there. Start with validation. Often, people don’t really need advice from us. They can get there on their own.
In the case of the rude YouTube comment mentioned above, I didn’t really need help making sense of the comment. I didn’t need help spinning the situation to a positive. (For Pete’s sake, I have a video talking about this very idea!) I just wanted someone to validate my experience for a moment. To acknowledge how rude the comment was and how it was natural to feel hurt.
So when someone comes to you with a problem, the very first thing you need to do is validate their experience. Acknowledge how they’re feeling. Be team them for a just a second. Sit with them in the experience long enough for them to know that they’re not alone.
PS: In the mood for another way to boost your relationships? Check out this post; it’s one of my favorites!