Hurts come in many different forms. Right now, I know people who’ve received scary test results, lost loved ones, miscarried, found out their mate was cheating, are entering high school for the first time, feel lonely, are in deep physical pain, have no money, and even some who don’t know why their heart hurts. But all can use the genuine outreach from someone who cares.
Fear of doing the wrong thing often keeps us from reaching out to someone experiencing a physical, financial, emotional, or mental crisis. Understanding that none of us are built alike, makes it even harder to determine the best way to express our concern.
Evaluating whether the person in need is a public or private personality can go a long way in helping us make the right decision. Some people respond well to a public outpouring of compassion. While others need a private display of support. You can best determine what kind of person you are dealing with by looking at their history. Here’s a list of questions you can ask about their behavior under normal circumstances:
- Do they think before speaking, or do they think out loud?
- Do they talk openly about their problems, or do they provide information on a need-to-know basis with the belief that few need to know?
- Do they speak loudly and tell stories, sometimes repeating particular segments two or more times, or do they speak softly, offering short, concise bits of information?
- An outspoken person often needs human touch and interaction as well. Give a hug, rub their upper arm, and remind them they are not alone. Assure them that you care.
- A quieter person often responds well to a card received in the mail. Don’t tell them you know what they are going through, because each situation carries unique threads of pain, but do tell them their hurts matter to you.
- An outspoken person appreciates a shoulder to cry on, a soft place to land, or a venting spot as they express the varied stages of grief. Be careful not to hurt their feelings further by allowing boredom or frustration over repetitious statements to creep in.
- A quieter person can react positively to a letter expressing your admiration of their honesty, integrity, strength, sensitivity, or any other traits you see them display in the midst of their stormy season. However, don’t discount the depth of their pain by sugar-coating the circumstances.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but we can prepare ourselves to help the hurting. Knowing different personalities require different forms of outreach, helps us effectively ease their burden when we come alongside them during life-changing events. No matter a person’s temperament, we all are helped to know we are not alone in a painful situation.
Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Specialist, Certified Team Training Facilitator, Marketing Specialist, national speaker, and author. She lives in Missouri with her husband Ricky.
She’s passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research.