Cited in Levo League – The True Test of Friendship: Unemployment

The True Test of Friendship: Unemployment,   Jessica Matternlogo-577b9cdcb55e9c7da5489d386cf5ac12

Unemployment is tough for everyone – job seeker as well as family and friends alike. Author, Jessica Mattern cites the average job search taking 7-8 months, and the obvious need for support during what can feel like a very long time. Chances are we all know, or will know soon, someone we care about facing a job transition, but knowing how to support that person may not be easy or obvious. Mattern assembles a variety of suggestions that orient around your friend’s needs, and following their lead. I was pleased to help out on this sensitive piece, addressing this little discussed element of unemployment – how to be a good friend.

Sometimes the friends that need us most don’t reach out, feeling ashamed that they’re having a hard time. Don’t assume your friend will reach out if they need you, and make a point of checking on them,” Clark says. Communicate with your friend as often as you see necessary. If conversations or the relationship feels tense, shorten and space out your communication.

When you reach out to your friend, make sure to ask the right questions. Clark advises asking your friend, how can I support you? “Asking them what they need puts your friend in the driver’s seat, an experience that is often all too lacking when it comes to a job search,” Clark says.

Humans are natural problem solvers, but as a supportive friend you should resist the urge to share your experience or give unsolicited advice. “Before you know it, you might be quizzing your friend on strategies they’ve tried so far and even making unsolicited suggestions that could be inappropriate or hurtful to them,” Clark says.Instead, Clark recommends asking how they are doing, not how the job search is going. Your friend just needs to know someone cares and someone is there to listen.

When your friend is stressed or just wants to vent, it can be difficult to know how to respond. You don’t want to seem cheesy and say something cliche, but you also want them to know you care. Try to remind your friend of their strengths, Clark says. Remind them of a previous challenge they endured or feat they achieved. “Offer hope and encouragement whenever you can,” Clark says. You can wrap up the conversation by saying, “I know it’s hard to keep putting yourself out there, but you can do this. You are doing all the right things, something has to work out soon.”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD