The number one thing that your friend will probably be looking for is for you to listen, provide that listening ear, to give them an opportunity to vent, to express themselves, to release the load of stress that they may be feeling for yourself as the listener. And you can use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. They may have experienced something that you know nothing about. You’ve never had any type of dealing with it ever in life. And so using this as an opportunity to learn and grow will benefit your friendship and to understand their experience, which leads me to my second point. It’s important for you to acknowledge your friend’s feelings, help them to accept their feelings understand, nurture their feelings.
Don’t reject their feelings, ignore them, or judge them as you’re listening, you know, shake your head. “Yes. I understand how you can feel that way. I see how you can come to that conclusion.” Those are the type of comments that you can say to let your friend know that “I’m listening,” and “I’m acknowledging your feelings.”
The third thing that you can do is ask your friend, “How can I help?” Just a simple question. “How Can I help you? How can I advocate on your behalf?” Maybe the situation occurred at work. So maybe human resources needs to be contacted. If that’s the route that your friend wants to take, or maybe law enforcement needs to be involved, or maybe your friend may be best, you know, seeking some type of legal counsel. So it will be good to see if your friend wants you to do the research.
You know, your friend is probably going through a stressful time. They may not know which way to turn. And so you being able to step in and be an advocate to do that. Research is something that I know that your friend would benefit from when someone is being oppressed. There’s a sense of relief. And when someone is sharing the burden with them, so out of respect for your friend, you know, share that load with them to see how you can be an advocate for them.
And then lastly, continue to check on your friend. You know, it’s okay to text, but you know, pick the phone up, listen to your friends. Boys, pick the phone up and see them. Facetime them. Zoom call them. Lay your eyes on your friends and make sure that they’re okay. That’s going to give them a sense of calm. That’s going to let them know that someone is caring about their situation. That’s just going to release just so much stress for them. So be a good friend. When you have someone that has experienced discrimination, be that good friend.
Yvette Lopez, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Thriveworks, offers tips like validating your friend or family member’s feelings and advocating for their rights.
If you are in Virginia and would like to book a session with Yvette, call (804) 980-7242 or visit https://thriveworks.com/richmond-counseling/counselors-and-therapists/