I enjoyed your article “3 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who’s About to Cry.” I really appreciated the advice. I never know quite what to do when someone I care about is near tears. I did have a question, however. When I see someone suffering, my instinct is to want to help. For me, this is about problem-solving or offering advice. I noticed you didn’t mention that in your article, so I wanted to ask: Is it okay to give advice or try to solve someone’s problem when they’re about to cry? Or is that a no-no?
It’s All About Timing
I’m glad you wrote in!
Generally speaking, when people are about to cry, they’re extremely emotionally overwhelmed. It’s pretty much the worst time to get into a complicated conversation with someone — especially about whatever thing is troubling them.
So no… I would not immediately launch into problem-solving or giving advice if it looks like the person you’re talking to is about to cry. Many folks will be offended or feel dismissed if you do this.
You should instead wait until they either cry or don’t. (While offering the kind of support that my former article mentioned.)
Now, the good news is that this usually doesn’t take very long, this waiting. It typically only takes a few minutes to see which way it’s going to go — whether they’ll cry or not.
I’d also advise you that even after this waiting period (and comforting and supporting that person) that you shouldn’t start problem-solving or offering them advice until after you’ve emotionally validated them — and asked them if they want your opinion/advice/help problem-solving.
Because sometimes people don’t want someone to offer advice or help with problem-solving. Sometimes they literally just want company and comfort when they’re upset.
And offering unsolicited and unwanted advice can actually backfire — and make that person feel like you’re judging them or implying that they are somehow to blame for their circumstances.
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