4 Ways to Be There for Your Friend Who Is Having Work Troubles
These expert tips will help you be there for her when she needs you.
Though we’d love to live in a world where working was an option rather than a necessity, for most of us, that simply isn’t the case. Yes, we might live in the age of the side hustle; one where influencers and digital nomads often sell the dream of pursuing your passion and following your career dreams.
But for those of us with rent, bills and student loans to pay, a stable paycheck is often far more important that the freedom and flexibility that is so often associated with doing something you love.
But that doesn’t mean that the politics, strains and stresses of office jobs are no longer felt. And if you manage to land on your feet and find yourself in the fortunate position of securing a career that ticks all the boxes but you have a close friend who’s on struggle street when it comes to her job, it can be hard to watch — and even harder to know exactly how to help.
While it’s easy to feel helpless in this sort of situation, taking action can make the world of difference, for both you and your friend.
We spoke to Sophie Cliff, a certified coach and positive psychology practitioner, who uses her expertise to help individuals and organizations flourish by finding more joy and prioritizing wellbeing. Also known as The Joyful Coach, Sophie shared her top three ways to be there for your friend who is having work troubles.
1. Listen to her problems
Oftentimes, when we’re trying to comfort a friend, we can fall into the habit of offering them our own experiences of a similar situation, so that they know they’re not alone, and that we understand what they’re going through.
However, Cliff says that the first step is to really sit down with your friend and listen to her problems. “Listening to our friends is always important, but when they’re having a hard time, it can be useful to ask them whether they need comfort or solutions.”
And while we might think that finding a solution for their problem is what they want our help with, that often isn’t the case.
“Sometimes, we can jump into trying to fix a problem, when actually, what the other person needs is simply a cuddle or a reminder that they’re loved.”
2. Encourage your friend to think about their strengths
“When work is getting us down it can take a hit to our confidence, but research shows that focusing on and using our strengths can help us to regain our self-belief and improve our wellbeing.” Says Cliff.
Whether it’s a friend you’ve had from childhood or someone you’ve bonded with at work, remind them of their best character traits, what they’re good at, how they’ve excelled in the past and exactly where their strengths lie — in both their personal and professional lives.
“Reminding your friend to focus on what they’re great at might be just what they need,” suggests Cliff. Doing so will not only help keep their past accomplishments front of mind, but it will also give their confidence a much-needed bolster.
3. Offer a fun distraction
Sometimes, we simply need some time out from our problems and to be reminded that while work is an important part of life, it’s by no means the be-all and end-all.
And while talking about work problems can help to a certain degree, so too can focusing on having some fun. Sophie suggests that “experiencing joy helps to build our resilience and manage stress, so you’ll be helping them deal with their work issues by simply showing them a good time!”
Whether you fancy getting out and about in nature, whiling away an afternoon at a gallery, or simply enjoying a cocktail or two as the sun sets, come up with a few fun distractions that your friend will love, and know that you’re also helping to cultivate a lasting friendship.
4. Give her some perspective
Finally, sometimes all it takes is to offer a positive perspective, says Cliff.
“When we’re struggling at work it can be hard to remember all of the other brilliant things we have going on in our lives, so try to gently remind your friend of this,” she says.
“Bring their attention to what a brilliant friend they are, talk about the exciting plans they have on the horizon, or simply remind them of all of the people they have in their corner, cheering them on.”