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There is no 'right thing' to say when you want to be supportive

28 November 2018

It feels selfish to fret - it’s the other person who is suffering - but agonising over what to say to a friend in need can be incredibly anxiety provoking.

If you want to be supportive (and not make matters worse), what are the right words to say to someone who has experienced a relationship break-up, for instance, or lost their job? Should you express sympathy, downplay the situation, say you know how they feel, or something else entirely?

A series of studies in the journals Basic and Applied Social Psychology will offer relief to anyone who has ever agonised over this predicament – the findings suggest that in fact there are few, if any, “magic statements that, if spoken, would provide lasting comfort to the recipient”.

Read more about these studies in an article on our Research Digest blog.

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