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Useful Interpersonal Skills When Supporting People Under Stress

There are certain ways that work in supporting others and ways that do not. Just using the right ways is a tremendous skill in supporting others. The following skills can enhance your support, as well. (The links are to topics in the Free Management Library.)

Authenticity - Don't try hard to be someone you that you are not. The other person will sense that and not trust you.

Emotional Intelligence - This is the ability to recognize the person's emotions and the likely cause for them. It helps you to empathize with their situation.

Two women in facemasks with social distance

Empathizing - This is the ability to "put yourself in another person's shoes." It is not the same as sympathy, which is feeling sorrow or pity for another person. Empathy is usually best when helping another person.

Listening - Helping someone in pain starts first with listening to them. Keep your mind quiet and stay in the present. Notice the meaning of their words.

Motivating - When someone wants to act on their situation, help them think about the best way to keep the energy to make that happen.

Paraphrasing - Paraphrasing is a useful way to be sure that you are understanding another person. It is a short summary of what they just said, and in your own words. (Paraphrasing is a form of mirroring, which also is very effective.)

Questioning - It can be very helpful to tactfully pose respectful questions to help another to carefully think about their situation.

Reframing - When people get stuck, it's often in how they see their situation. Reframing is helping another to see their situation differently.

Sharing Feedback - Useful feedback includes advice that is understandable, very relevant to the person's situation and within their power to use.

Summarizing - Summarizing, like paraphrasing, is a powerful way to be sure you are truly understanding the other person.

Trusting - To best help the other person, it's critical that they trust you -- that they believe you have their best interests in your intentions.