When it comes to communication, there are times when you simply don't know what to say. It could be during an awkward conversation, in a moment of grief, or when meeting someone new. Whatever the situation may be, feeling lost for words can often leave us feeling frustrated and vulnerable. However, there are ways to easily navigate these moments and come out unscathed.
In this article, we will share with you 30 things to do when you don't know what to say. From simple techniques like taking a deep breath and collecting your thoughts, to more complex strategies like active listening and empathizing with others, we've got you covered. Whether you're looking for advice on how to handle difficult conversations or just need some inspiration for small talk topics, our list has something for everyone. So if you've ever found yourself at a loss for words, keep reading!
How to Easily Navigate and Find What to Say with this Guide
Have you ever been in an awkward situation where you're tongue-tied nervous, or your brain has a fart knowing what to say? Practically hear crickets chirping? We've all been there, whether it's making friends, networking events, romantic situations, or uncomfortable conversations. Knowing what to say is an important social skill that can make or break crucial moments.
The good news is that we have compiled a guide with 30 things to say in different situations. From past small talk to expressing feelings when someone shares good or bad news, we've got you covered. You'll learn how to show empathy when a family member passed away or respond with a socially-acceptable response when someone shares inappropriate topics.
The key takeaways from this guide are exuding kindness confidence and being able to navigate through socially-awkward situations. Whether it's your boss asking about your day, meeting professional contacts, or making new friends at a networking event - this guide will help you avoid cringing internally by providing practical advice on how to handle practically any conversation topic.
Words of Comfort: Responding to News - Good or Bad
We've all been there, receiving bad news can be tough. Whether it's a loss of a job, a breakup or even something as severe as an illness, it's difficult to know what to say. However, your words can make a big difference in someone's life during this tough time.
Firstly, it's important to acknowledge their feelings and let them know you're there for them. Saying things like "I'm sorry for what you're going through" or "I'm here if you need anything" can go a long way. Secondly, avoid trying to fix their problems right away and instead offer your support and empathy. Sometimes all we need is someone to listen and understand our pain. Remember that words are powerful and kind ones can bring comfort during even the hardest moments of life.
1. What to say when you hear that someone passed away
When someone tells you that a loved one has passed away, it's important to express your genuine sentiment and offer support during this difficult time. Remember to acknowledge the incredible person they were and understand that their loss can create a deeper emotional wound. It's not about comparing grief or saying the right thing - sometimes just being there with emotional containment can make all the difference. Avoid giving advice or assuming they're strong, as everyone processes grief differently and may feel weaker than usual.
2. What to say when someone shares bad news
When someone shares unpleasant or bad news with us, it can make us feel uncomfortable and unsure of what to say. It's important to acknowledge their feelings and let them know that you are there for them. Saying something as simple as "I'm here for you" or "I'm sorry you're going through this" can make a big difference in making the person feel heard and supported, especially if they are super upset.
3. What to say when someone is sick
When someone faces sickness, whether it's just a passing cold or a more severe illness, it can be difficult to know what to say to express sympathy and offer support. If you've heard that someone you care about is dealing with a health issue or feeling similar symptoms, it's natural to want to reach out and let them know you're there for them. A simple message like "I'm sorry you're feeling bad, but I'm here if you need anything" or "Sending healing vibes your way for a speedy recovery" can go a long way in showing you care.
4. What to say if someone is having a bad day
When someone is having a hard time, it can be tough to know what to say. But acknowledging their feelings can go a long way. You could try saying something like "I'm sorry you're having a bad day, that sounds really tough." And if they seem open to it, maybe suggest doing something to cheer them up, like making silly ugly faces or finding 76 ways to make them laugh. Because let's face it, strawberry crying is a lot cuter than regular crying.
5. What to say if someone just had a baby
When someone just had a baby, it's always good news! If you are looking for simple responses to congratulate them, try saying "present ahhh" or "great parents." And if you want to do them a favor, wow them by offering to bring dinner tonight - exhausted new parents will appreciate it. Don't forget to ask about the gender and say congratulations! I've already started brainstorming what to say when my friend has her baby next week, and I know exactly what I'll be saying: "I'm coming over with dinner tonight!"
6. What to say if someone is getting married
Getting married is a huge turning point for many peoples lives, and it's important to show your support and love for the happy couple. You can start by congratulating them on their engagement and asking how the wedding planning process is going. Don't be afraid to tell them how excited you are to see them become a power couple and spend the rest of their lives together.
7. What to say when someone shares the good news
When someone shares positive news with you, it's the perfect opportunity to share some positive energy. If you aren't feeling like you're at a high point, take this cool congratulations as a sign that good things are on the horizon. Let them know how amazing their achievement is and that you're rooting for them after all their hard work. It's important to avoid negative comments and criticism immediately, so try your best to avoid overwhelming them with unwanted opinions.
Coping with Grief: Tips to Help You Move Forward
Coping with grief can be one of the hardest situations to navigate, and people don't always know what to say to help. Devine explains that it's important for clinicians and loved ones alike to stop treating grief like a problem that needs fixing. It's a natural response to loss, and negative feelings are bound to occur.
One way to move forward is by joining support groups or seeking talk therapy. Talking about your feelings with others who are going through similar experiences can help you feel less alone and provide a safe space for processing emotions. Encourages clinicians also suggest cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as an effective method for coping with grief.
It's important to start thinking about self-care when navigating grief. This includes taking time for yourself, being kind to yourself, and not occurring shaming people who may need more time or different methods of healing. Remember that grieving is a human condition, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. By practicing self-compassion and seeking support when needed, you can begin the journey towards healing.
Empathetic Statements to Offer to a Grieving Loved One
When someone we care about experiences loss, it can be challenging to know what to say or do. Devin shares actionable tips for supporting a person who's grieving in her article on "what to say." The most important thing is to make the person feel heard and understood. Validating their feelings is one of the most important parts of being a support person.
It's not anyone else's responsibility to make the person stop grieving or avoid conversation altogether. It's essential to acknowledge that grief is a natural and common reaction to experienced loss. Devin explains that asking loaded questions like "How are you doing?" can be overwhelming, and instead suggests offering simple check-ins like "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm here for you."
Devin shares that it's common for someone grieving to actively avoid places or activities that could potentially remind them of their loss. Doing household chores, making phone calls, or just being present can make a significant difference in their mental health. While there isn't a single thing we can say or do that will take away someones pain, we can offer empathetic statements and validate how they're feeling. If needed, encourage them to seek help from mental health professionals who specialize in grief counseling.
Discover Ways to Offer Assistance
When a friend is going through depression, it can feel like they are carrying a great weight. Fortunately, there are many ways you can offer assistance and make a difference in their life. Firstly, listen without judgment and offer emotional support. Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear to vent their frustrations and feel heard.
If your friend is struggling with day-to-day tasks, specific suggestions can be helpful. Offer to help with grocery shopping or accompany them to doctor appointments. If they are feeling overwhelmed with household chores, suggest spending a Saturday morning doing yard work together or cleaning up the house.
Remember that everyone's experience with depression places them in a slightly different situation. What may have worked for one person may not work for another, so it's important to communicate openly and ask what would be most helpful for them. With your support, your friend can recover and find joy in life once again.
In summary, knowing what to say can make daily tasks and interactions much easier. However, it's not always easy to find the right words that lend tangible practical support. That's why it's important to keep practicing and honing our communication skills to better connect with those around us.
Boost Their Confidence: Encourage Without Criticism
When someone is struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know what to say. Depression tends to make people feel weak and like they have a character flaw, but it's important to remember that mental illness is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Encouraging words can go a long way in helping someone feel better about themselves and their situation. Instead of criticizing them for their struggles, try telling them how proud you are of them for fighting back against their illness.
It's understandable to want to offer solutions or advice when someone is going through a tough time, but sometimes all they need is some support and encouragement. Mental illness can cause a great deal of self-doubt and negative self-talk, so it's important to counteract that with positive affirmations. Remind your loved one that they are not alone in their struggle and that you believe in them. With your encouragement, they will be able to fight back against their illness and regain their confidence.
In summary, knowing what to say when someone is struggling with a common mental health condition can be difficult, but it's important to remember that being present and supportive can go a long way. By offering words of encouragement and reminding them that they are strong and resilient, you can help them feel heard and validated. Keep reading for more tips on how to approach these conversations with sensitivity and care.
Validating Emotions: Encouraging Acceptance of Feelings
When a friend feels overwhelmed or upset, it's natural to want to offer some sort of consolation or advice. However, sometimes all that is needed is validation and acceptance of their emotions. This can be especially important for those with biochemical imbalances, who may recently have started taking medications or attending counseling.
It's important to remember that there are no fast easy solutions when it comes to mental health. Medications such as antidepressants can take time to work and may not be effective for everyone. Additionally, the change in chemicals in the brain can cause side effects and fluctuating moods.
One simple solution is to validate your friend's feelings by acknowledging what they're going through and reminding them that it's okay to feel that way. Just like how strep throat takes time to heal and requires rest, healing from mental health issues takes time and self-care. By offering acceptance and support rather than trying to fix the problem, you can help your friend feel heard and understood.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to get it right when someone is grieving?
Yes, it can be difficult to know what to say or do when someone is grieving. It's important to be empathetic, listen actively, and offer your support in a way that feels comfortable for them.
What does at least mean to a grieving person?
"At least" is often used as a well-intentioned but insensitive phrase to minimize the pain of a grieving person's loss. It can be interpreted as dismissing their feelings and invalidating their grief.
What happens when you can’t think of how to start a conversation?
When you can't think of how to start a conversation, take a deep breath and ask open-ended questions. This will help the other person to share their thoughts and ideas, and lead to a more natural and engaging conversation.
What to do when a joke doesn't go over well?
If your joke doesn't go over well, simply apologize and move on. Don't dwell on it or try to explain the joke, as that can make things worse. Just remember to read your audience in the future and adjust your humor accordingly.
What to do when you don't know what to say?
Take a deep breath, listen actively, and ask open-ended questions to guide the conversation. It's okay to admit you don't have all the answers and seek more information before responding.