A Friend Indeed: A Simple Guide to Supporting One Another

By Rohini Rajaratnam|02-12-2016 | 3 Min Read
At some point in life we each encounter setbacks. That is undeniable.

What are setbacks? It’s either a specific event or a string of them that impede on your forward progress, hence holding you back from greatness.

They come in an assortment of forms ranging from the economic to the physical, and sometimes even in the form of love. Sound familiar?

You have probably, at some time, wished there was someone to help you through a rough patch or at least remind you that you’re cared for.

Some of us have found a way to crawl out of the rut, but how about those who are less fortunate?

Here are some things you can do to help a friend in need:

1. Be all ears

Be a friend first by listening. Research shows that the average person listens with only 25% efficiency – meaning there’s a lot we’re letting go in one ear and out the other.

Listening expert Paul Sacco, a professor at the University of Maryland, suggests observing and consciously being present as good listening exercises. Ask questions, listen to the other person’s stories and then determine how you can help.

2. Play to your strengths

Before you turn into Oprah Winfrey, start by identifying how you can help a person and what is out of your league.

For example, if it is a legal problem and applying the law happens to be your forte, why not offer a hand? If, however, it turns out the problem isn’t within your area of expertise, fret not.

You could try connecting the person to someone who could be of help. Always try to empathise and help wherever you can without overstraining yourself.

3. Boost confidence

Be inspiring and ever ready to point out the other person’s strengths whilst diminishing their weaknesses.

This will help them build confidence and self-worth. Knowing they are good at something is encouraging and motivation to improve themselves even more.

4. Pass no judgment

When listening, keep an open mind and try your best not to judge or be critical.

Ian Maclaren, a Scottish author and theologian, once said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” and sometimes what might come easy to you might not to them.

There are people who will never dress like us, hold opinions similar to ours, or share our interests. But those same people might be hurting and in need of somebody to help carry their difficulties.

5. Check in

After all is said and done, don’t leave the person hanging. If your friend says they have an exam or a huge event on Monday, text them on Sunday night to wish them luck and call them up on Monday night to see how it went.

The fact that you remembered gives them encouragement and shows them you care. It’s that little expression of concern that keeps the other person optimistic through the tough days.

6. Patience


No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.

Charles Dickens


Finally, just love the person. With love comes patience. It will take a lot of perseverance and time, but one thing’s for sure: standing by another person through the bad times will also help you overcome some of your own setbacks.

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Rohini is a law graduate and freelance writer. Her areas of interest are personal development, social rights, and reflective writing.
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