Coaching And Facilitation Experiences – Be there for others in the way they desire – not in the way you desire.

Recently I have experienced quite a personal revelation.

I have realised that through my attempts to selflessly communicate with someone, I have actually been selfishly communicating with them.
Now the intention was not selfish – and that is the great paradox. The reason for my actions was always for the benefit of the other person.

I’ll take a few steps back to explain this to you.

I’ll take a few steps back to explain this to you.

My partner has recently been going through a hard time with work, where multiple and varying stresses have put him into an all time low. His heaviness has been a tangible feeling for me, too. 

Now, my automatic response to anybody who is in any form of emotional distress is to be there to help one talk stuff through and help them look for a solution. It comes from my heart; I like to give my love through giving time and emotional attention. 

So this is the kind of emotional support I would like – and surely the kind we would all like?
Well…. Actually, it’s not.

Yu may have heard of the 5 Love Languages? If you haven’t I’d recommend that you read up on it, it’s incredibly insightful. In a nutshell the author, Gary Chapman, explains how everybody has primary languages (which has a summarised into 5 variants) in which they express their love. So the way that I express love and expect to receive love, may be very different to the way that you express and receive love. And that is how we sometimes miss the acts of love that another does towards us.


Well, I think there should be “Support Languages” too; because my way of wanting to receive support could be different to yours. And it is certainly different to how my partner wants to receive theirs.

All too often, this scenario would play out:

My partner comes home , feeling really tired and stressed. As soon as he walks through the door, I can sense his emotions and immediately want to soothe it.
As I mentioned before, my way of soothing would be to sit down with him and let him (or sometimes, push him to) talk it out, then brainstorm a way to work it out. Sounds good, right?
Well for my partner, it is definitely not the best way to solve these things.
He needs space. He needs lots, and lots of space. Then, once he’s processed things, he tends to share with me what he was going through and we can potentially brainstorm solutions together, only if he is in the right mindset to do this. 

This all ties in beautifully with one of our previous topics, where we addressed the question of, “What gift am I not giving…?”
All our needs are unique to us. For my partner, he doesn’t need the gift of an open ear. He needs the gift of space.
By me trying to force and pull out information, I just made it more stressful for him, more pressured and I didn’t allow him the space he needed to work it out in his own way. I created a space where I was wanting to extract this information so that I could satisfy my need to support him, but through doing this I wasn’t actually supporting HIM. 

My lesson?

Well, it’s a tricky one to decode, because every time I ask my partner what support looks like to him, he says he doesn’t know. So if you’re faced with a similar situation where the other person involved isn’t sure of theirs either, then perhaps some trial and error is necessary. 

Take time to...

  • Approach situations differently. If you’ve tried one way and it doesn’t work, try supporting them through giving in another way. Trial and error. 

  • Stay honest with them about your intention to support them, so they know why you may be responding differently. Encourage the mindset of discovering this together.

  • Listen to the little signs. It might be unspoken ones, such as body language, tone of voice or habits that only show when one is tired/stressed/anxious etc. 

  • It might be linguistic too, so look out for a pattern in language. If when a topic is approached you hear more often than not, “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” You know they need space. Or you might hear the opposite, such as, “I had such a bad day”, in this case take this as an opportunity to turn your full attention to them and give them a silent space to express if they want to. 

If you’re not sure what gift your partner or loved one is needing right now, take a read through our blog post that speaks about the different types of gifts we may need to give another.You may find that their support language and their love language is closely linked to the gifts they need to receive. 

These small offers of communication are windows of opportunity to engage with another in ways they’re silently asking us to. The best part is, changing the way we communicate all too often encourages the other person to change their ways of communicating, too.

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