Sometimes you can tell that a friend, family member or loved one is deeply troubled. If you know someone well, changes in their normal behaviour are a good indication that something is bothering them. If you truly care about them, it might help them to talk it through, but it is not always easy to know how to get people to open up to you.
The following are a few tips for how you can get someone you care about to confide their troubles:
1. Gain the other person’s confidence
One way of doing this might be to share something about yourself with them. If you open up to them, they might reciprocate. If you have had a long relationship with the other person, and felt that you already trusted one another completely, you might be puzzled, or even offended, that they have not already confided in you.
Perhaps they are reluctant to burden you with their problems? If you suspect this is the case, you should approach them quietly, tell them that you know something is bothering them, and reassure them that you are there for them if they need somebody to talk to.
2. Let the person know that you truly care about them, and that you are not just being intrusive
Make them see that you are ready to help. Assure them that you are not going to be judgmental, and won`t be shocked by whatever they tell you.
3. Be prepared to be patient
The other person might not be ready yet to open up to anyone, so don’t try to force things. Just be there for them when they are ready to confide.
4. Choose a good place and time
Once the person is ready to confide, choose a suitable time and location to sit and talk. It should be somewhere where you are not going to be overheard, or constantly interrupted, and you should allow an infinite amount of time so that your friend does not feel pressured.
5. Make sure that you really listen to what they are saying
Lean towards them and make lots of eye contact to show that you are interested, and nod to demonstrate that you are following their account. Don’t interrupt, but let them maintain their flow, so that they can get things out of their system.
6. Give some sensitive prompts
If your friend is finding it difficult to express what they want to say, you could try to prompt them with a few gentle, yet probing questions, or make comments that move the conversation forward.
Ask open questions that require more than a yes or no response, and keep your tone quiet and reassuring. Don`t be afraid to let your friend be silent for a few moments though. They might need time to compose their thoughts, so be sensitive and don’t push too hard.
7. Don’t judge
After you have heard what the other person has to say, you must then ensure that you are not judgmental about what they have revealed, and don’t, under any circumstances criticise their behaviour, or else they will instantly clam up against you. Remain supportive and sympathetic.
8. Give some practical help
If there isn’t anything that you can do, remind them that you are always there for them, and that they can feel free to open up to you any time they are feeling low. Knowing that they have a friend to confide in will be a weight off their minds, and talking things over can sometimes be the first step to healing.
So, in order to get someone close to open up to you, you need to be supportive, tactful, discreet and not judgmental. Remind the other person that you are always there to lend an ear when they are troubled, and never betray their confidence.