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10 Right Things to Say to Someone Who is Crying

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Etiquette & advice

10 Right Things to Say to Someone Who is Crying

If you see someone crying, your natural reaction may be to help them overcome their feeling of despair or frustration. The trouble is what to say to someone crying.

Some people are easier to comfort than others, and just need to know you’re there, so you don’t have to figure out what to say. Others require somewhat of a pep talk or encouraging words.

Knowing what to say will depend on the relationship you share and what the trigger was. If you see someone crying, here are the things you should think about before you say anything.


 

Things To Consider Before You Say Anything

 
Before you try to come up with what to say to someone crying, there are some things you must pay attention to or consider. These will increase your chances of helping the situation, rather than making the person feel worse.
 

01The surroundings or circumstances
 
The surroundings or circumstances in which you find the person crying may help you figure out what’s happening and will determine what to say to someone crying. If you witness the trigger, you can better understand how to help. For instance, if the person breaks down because of poor grades versus grieving over a lost loved one. If you do not know, you may ask, but do not pester. You do not have to know the reason in order to help.

 

man sitting on the bench crying
Photo by Bruno Aguirre on unsplash

 

02Their reaction
 
If the person already has people comforting him/her, chances are what you say will be no different, so offer support in other ways. Get him/her a tissue or glass of water. If he/she tries to hide or avoids eye contact, perhaps you should give him/her space before you jump right in with what to say to someone crying.

 
 

03Show compassion
 
No one wants their feelings invalidated. Let him/her know that their feelings are natural, and they are allowed to express themselves through tears. However, it is important to avoid being condescending. Instead, show support as he/she works through these emotions.

 

therapist comforting patient wearing pastel peach jacket
Photo by Polina Zimmerman under pexels license

 

04Your relationship
 
When a stranger is crying, ensure you respect any boundaries. This may be denoted by body language; for instance, a person with folded arms may want you to back off a bit. It is vital to ask for consent before you try to touch him/her. When someone you know is crying, feel free to offer physical support through hugs or holding hands. Try not to cry because this is not about you.

 
 

05You might not be able to fix it
 
You need to accept that you may not be able to fix the situation entirely, or at all. However, you can make it better for even a moment or two if you know what to say to someone crying. Don’t give up just because the person is still crying, and you feel like you failed. Your presence might be more useful than you realise. On the other hand, if he/she wants to be alone, do not force it. Accept that you cannot change the situation, but let him/her know you are available if needed.

 
 

7 ideas of what to say to someone crying

 
Your friends, colleagues or classmates may go through some difficult circumstances that cause them to shed tears in your presence. Your job is to offer kind words that will help them to, of course, stop crying, but more importantly, work out their feelings.
 
Here are some examples of what to say to someone crying:
 

01“Is there anything I can do to help?”
 
This is a good way to approach someone you are close to. It is good because you are offering more than just words. You are offering yourself up to perform actions that can help him/her, which can be a solution to the problem.
 
For example, if the person is crying because they are getting evicted, you can offer him/her a place to stay until the issue is resolved. Another example could be stress and you could offer to take his/her kids out for the day to give him/her a chance to relax.

 

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Photo byLiza Summer under pexels license

 

02“I had a similar experience once. This is how I got over it.”
 
Offering proven results is useful in a situation where a person feels hopeless. It will show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Note that this should only be used if you are certain this won’t make the situation about you. Sometimes, in an effort to help, we neglect the actual issue and go on a tangent about our own problems.

 
 

03“I’m here to listen if you need me.”
 
This is good to use if the person shows signs that he/she is not ready to talk, or they are crying so hard that they find it hard to speak clearly. This gives him/her the space he/she needs to sort out his/her feelings or to calm down without ignoring the root of the issue. It also shows that you are being genuine.

 

frustrated black woman touching lips and sitting on bed scared crying
Photo by Alex Green under pexels license

 

04“You have every right to feel that way. It’s okay to be sad.”
 
This is good to use when you wish to affirm his/her feelings. It helps the person feel less “crazy” or “stupid” for crying about something that others with thicker skin would find trivial.

 
 

05“Let it all out. You’ll be happy that you did.”
 
This is good to say because it encourages the person to address their feelings. This is preferable to bottling it up, which could cause even more stress and heartache. It also shows that you are supportive and that you are not being judgemental.

 

 

06“It gets better. I promise.”
 
Only say this when you are coming from a position of experience that he/she knows about. This serves as proof that the emotions are not permanent and the situation is resolvable.
 
For instance, if you went through a bad breakup and are okay now, the person will use that as motivation to get his/her life back on track.

 

black woman crying wearing necklace and beige shirt
Photo by Thought Catalog on unsplash

 

07“You’re stronger than you realise. I know you’ll get through this.”
 
Use this when the person crying expresses self-doubt. It will reassure him/her about internal strength and can show that you believe in him/her.

 
 

3 things to say when they have finished crying

 
Your job as a support system and friend does not end when the person stops crying. You should still be willing to offer the same level of love and support that they can take with them as they go through the different stages of working through their emotions.
 
Here’s what to say to someone crying when the tears have dried up:
 

01“Call me if you need anything else. I’ll always be here to listen.”
 
This is good to say because it lets the person know your love and support aren’t situational. People often forget that there are different stages of working through negative feelings and that they should “show up” for all of them.
 
A good example of this is a funeral where everyone offers kind words on the day of the funeral, but few check-in or make themselves available for the grief that follows.

 

01 woman in white crew neck t shirt using silver macbook tablet calling phone
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

 

02“Okay, now let’s get you all cleaned up.”
 
Do not underestimate the value of helping a friend or colleague pick themselves up after crying. It is okay to cry, but this show of strength and support will give them the drive needed to keep their heads up, especially in a public setting.

 

02 man washing his face with water
Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on unsplash

 

03“That was really tough. You’re so strong.”
 
This is good to use because it acknowledges that the situation was difficult and it commends him/her for being brave enough to express genuine emotions.

 
 

3 Things that you SHOULD NOT say when someone is crying

 
The worst thing you could do when trying to comfort someone who is crying is to say something triggering. The person will end up crying even harder than before, and you might make it worse for everyone.
 
Other things may simply be insensitive and not beneficial to the person crying at all. Some may even take it as an insult or become angry.
 
Here’s what to never say to someone who is crying:
 

01“It’s not a big deal.”
 
There’s no worse feeling in the world than having your feelings invalidated. While it may not seem like a big deal to you, it is clearly important to the person crying and you should respect it, no matter how trivial you think it is. The important thing is that the feelings are being expressed, and they are working through them in a healthy way.

 

 

02“It could be worse.”
 
This not only invalidates the person’s feelings but can also make them start catastrophizing, i.e. viewing the situation as considerably worse than it is. This will only make the person feel even worse and he/she will possibly start crying harder.

 

02 gamer neon lights in front of computer raising his arms
Photo by Robert Nagy under pexels license

 

03“This is silly. Crying won’t solve anything.”
 
This is a very mean thing to say to someone going through a rough time. Crying is a natural emotion and we all do it. The reaction to these statements can either be anger or insecurity. The person may feel like you are making fun of them and could lash out at you. Also, the person might feel wrong or bad for crying and begin to question the validity of his/her emotions.

 
 

Conclusion

 
The next time you see someone crying, apply all that you have learned to be a supportive friend, colleague or classmate. Your kindness will not go unnoticed, and if you ever end up in a similar situation where you are the person crying, he/she will feel compelled to return the favor.
 

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