With bad things seemingly happening to us all the time, you’d think that we’d know how to comfort each other in times of stress. It seems not.
You could say that as a community, we’ve had to endure a lot. – we’ve been beset by earthquakes, cyclones, bushfires, floods, typhoons and varying degrees of financial crises.
In times of crisis, the right words of comfort can mean a lot, yet according to research conducted by AXA, it appears few of us actually know just what to say.
In a study of 5,000 people, AXA examined the best and worst phrases to use to comfort a partner, relative or friend experiencing tough times. As you might expect, a good dose of humour and a philosophical outlook generally works better than showing some tough love.
According to the study, the phrase “One day we’ll laugh at this” was voted as the most reassuring thing you could say, while “Get a grip” was the opposite.
The study also found that men and women took different levels of comfort depending on which phrase was used, with the negative phrases affecting women 18 per cent more than men. When faced with the phrase “Get a grip”, 74 per cent of women found it annoying, while only 62 per cent of men did.
Overall the most commonly used phrase to comfort someone in a time of need was “I know how you feel” with more than a quarter of people surveyed saying they used this phrase. Unfortunately, almost the same percentage of people found it annoying.
So next time you’re faced with someone who is in need of a kind word, think about these results and try not to use terms such as ‘Chin up’ or ‘It could be worse’, as they will usually have the opposite effect.
Being confronted with grief and unhappiness isn’t easy and to be able to truly comfort someone you need to use words that are laced with patience, understanding and respect. While it only seems like a little thing, it is a vital skill everyone needs to have.
Top ten most reassuring phrases
|% reassured||Top ten most annoying phrases||
|1||One day we’ll laugh at this||49%||1||Get a grip||68%|
|2||I really feel for you||46%||2||Pull yourself together||66%|
|3||When one door closes, another door opens||38%||3||There, there||64%|
|4||I know how you feel||35%||4||Pain is just weakness leaving the body||59%|
|5||We live and learn||35%||5||Keep a stiff upper lip||54%|
|6||Every cloud has a silver lining||33%||6||Plenty more fish in the sea||51%|
|7||What’s meant to be will be||32%||7||Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever||48%|
|8||Time heals all wounds||32%||8||Worse things happen at sea||48%|
|9||What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger||32%||9||That’s too bad||46%|
|10||Always look on the bright side of life||32%||10||Chin up||43%|