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I wasn't good enough at encouraging people to be kinder, and removing people who refuse to be kind. Encouraging people is hard, and removing people creates conflict, and I hate conflict... so that's why I wasn't better at it.

I was a very, very sensitive teen. The atmosphere of this forum as it is now, if it had existed in 1996, would probably have upset me far more than it would have helped.

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I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems
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vonunov Offline
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Post: #1
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

Or how to listen to them about their problems, or however you want to say it.

This is an issue for me especially online. In real life, there are nonverbal indications that you care. Online, there are only words, which aren't always well suited. In real life, I can skate by with some nonverbal reactions until there's an opportunity to say something that makes sense to say, some kind of probing question or whatever.

I don't really know what I'm supposed to do. I mostly know what I'm not supposed to do. I shouldn't try to fix the problem, which is my primary way of dealing with everything. My life is just a steady stream of troubleshooting, that is how I work. But not when someone isn't asking for it. I shouldn't try to provide my own similar experiences for commiseration as this will draw attention away from / comparatively belittle their problem. Or something like that. I'm not really clear on that part either. I shouldn't pick apart / invalidate the problem, obviously.

So what's left to do? If I try to say something in validation/support without fixing/comparing/dismissing the problem, then it feels ridiculously empty and patronizing, even though I never really have any problem with what anyone says to me. Only when I'm trying to do it. I have worked mostly in some form of customer support over the phone for my ~7 years of working, and I still hate to say things like "That does sound frustrating" and "I'm sorry to hear that" even in the exact same contexts where others would say them, because for some reason I feel sure that it'll come off like I'm fucking with them. On occasion it feels appropriate to say something like that, but not often as it should, I think. It seems harder when I have to type the words and then have to look at them sitting there, not meaning anything and looking patronizing.

But maybe that's not the kind of thing I should say anyway, so what is the idea there? I actually care and I want to be good at this but it doesn't make sense online.
(This post was last modified: 12-02-2015 07:28 PM by vonunov.)
12-02-2015 06:47 PM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #2
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

I also often feel like I don't know what to say, so what I do is say things like "yeah" or send a sad face, or ask them questions like "what happened next?" or some relevant question.

Some more ideas:
http://www.eqi.org/listen.htm#Suggestions

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12-04-2015 03:06 AM
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brainiac3397 Offline
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Post: #3
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

I only interfere to help a person with their problems when I decide it to be warranted. My belief is that a person should be able to overcome most of their difficulties themselves in order to strenghten their will and give themselves insight.

So if it looks like the person can get it under control, I'll still seek to determine and hear the problems but I won't try to offer ways to fix it. In the end there is no way for me to be capable of determining what their experiences, feelings, and thoughts are to offer the most effective advice. Best I can do is help them gain insight to their own problems(because many with problems are too clouded by problem to be aware of the problem and thus capable of resolving).

So when I tell a person to leave me alone or forget about it, it's because I'm going through a sort of meditative process to contain the situation, analyze it, and resolve it(either through some positive action or just totally dumping the burden thus cleaning the slate).

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(06-14-2013 08:02 AM)Potato Wrote:  watch the fuq out, we've got an "intellectual" over here.

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12-04-2015 12:40 PM
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Post: #4
RE: I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

(12-04-2015 12:40 PM)brainiac3397 Wrote:  My belief is that a person should be able to overcome most of their difficulties themselves in order to strenghten their will and give themselves insight.

I kind of agree with this, but there's nothing wrong with letting people who cares about you help you. Our minds have a tendency of getting clouded and rigid when we are in difficult situations, so getting others opinions can help open your mind.

Even though that in the end it's up to oneself to solve one's problems, a little help on the way doesn't hurt.

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  • "My thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth." - Unknown
12-06-2015 04:12 PM
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brainiac3397 Offline
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Post: #5
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

When your mind is cloudy and rigid, the last thing you need are opinions.

A proper analogy to what you need is basically that friend who'll stand in front of that single-occupancy restroom door that doesn't lock to make sure people don't barge in while you're taking a dump. Basically, you don't want input because you really just need to be aware the support exists. And one can easily show support in silence.

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(06-14-2013 08:02 AM)Potato Wrote:  watch the fuq out, we've got an "intellectual" over here.

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12-06-2015 04:18 PM
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vonunov Offline
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RE: I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

Thanks. Haven't been on eqi in a while so I'll have a read and see if there's something useful I forgot. I guess it usually works to ask questions and that sort of thing, though I'm worried it will end up like I'm trying to be an interviewer or therapist or something. There is probably something to be said about excessive self-consciousness during a thing like this. I already have people who have not stopped coming to me to talk after the first times so maybe I should stop worrying that I'm somehow doing something wrong.
12-06-2015 05:57 PM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #7
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

I've theorized that "depression" is understandable as a deep seeded negative opinion about yourself. This could be fixed by (1) changing your deepest beliefs, or (2) actually saying the negative opinion is valid and deciding on a plan to change yourself through action.

Thus, giving advice requires knowing the person quite well. Online you can just complain in hopes that a passing response makes you feel better just long enough to convince yourself that you love yourself again.

I kind of doubt that I am oversimplifying this. A rebuttal would need to be an example of CURED depression where neither of my two options were chosen. Maybe somebody reading this got better outside of my framework???

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07-28-2016 02:31 PM
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Ky Offline
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RE: I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

(07-28-2016 02:31 PM)the Analogist Wrote:  I kind of doubt that I am oversimplifying this.

Then I'll doubt for you.

Don't get me wrong - you've quite concisely nailed a lot of the most damning aspects of depression on the head, be it the temporary colloquialism or the clinical variety.

The problem with the latter is that such an affliction tends to obfuscate one's plans for self-improvement, leading to yet another endless cycle of confusion, despair, and emptiness. I've been metaphorically walking in circles in search of the exit for years now; I believe this might be part of why professionals are so adamant that sufferers seek actual treatment.

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(This post was last modified: 07-28-2016 02:49 PM by Ky.)
07-28-2016 02:47 PM
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the Analogist Offline
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RE: I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

As for a negative judgment of yourself, it is ultimately based off of one's values. Your values are best discovered and altered by leveling judgments on various things especially when you can bounce ideas around with an open and honest mutual party.

As you seek to justify your positions with reference to your emerging ethics a faculty appears whereby self-reflection, also done with confident parties, makes you the subject. Your goals should be based on those same values you develop and reference in argument. Intellectual coherence, once united with necessary steps in the right direction (the rightness of which is determined by YOU) eventually you will rightly feel happy with yourself... maybe.

This by the way is the Art of Conversation.

The internets is a bad venue to practice this Art. Surely you have somebody to talk with right? You seem quite balanced for somebody with NO friends

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07-28-2016 03:22 PM
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Ky Offline
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Post: #10
I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

I'm almost insulted that you assume I haven't accomplished all of that already. Surprisingly, diseases don't disappear in a puff of logic when you confront them with a coherent picture of who you are.

That, however, sounds like a story for another thread.

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07-28-2016 04:05 PM
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the Analogist Offline
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RE: I don't understand how to talk with people about their problems

I misread what you said.

My impression was that your "walking in circles" was a reference to you not knowing what to do with yourself.

It makes sense to keep me and the forums out of the loop with regards to details, but then again this thread itself is a kind of study on how not to advise people online.

I am sorry that I didn't get what you were saying.

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(This post was last modified: 07-29-2016 01:42 AM by the Analogist.)
07-29-2016 01:41 AM
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