Your friend has had a long day. They’re exhausted, and one more straw could break their back. They can’t deal with stressors, and they need a soothing presence to help restore them to their normal smiling self. You can be that soothing presence if you follow the 11 tips below.
Don’t Show Negative Emotion
Keep a smile on your face. Even if something sad or upsetting is thrown your way, don’t let it get to you — or, at least, don’t make it look like it got to you.
Displaying negative emotion is basically like a signal showing the other person it’s okay to display negativity as well. And obviously, feeling distraught is not a soothing emotion.
If your friend tells you how awful something happened, listen to them, agree with them, but put a positive spin on it.
Respect Personal Space
Do not get too close unless you get permission first. People are psychologically predisposed to feel bad when others invade their personal space, and a soothing presence will keep at a comfortable distance (not too close, not too far). Even though it might feel unnatural, they will signal, or straight-up ask when they will break that rule.
It might seem heavy-handed to slow down your movement, but scientific findings show it does have a definite soothing effect.
Be deliberate and exacting with all your actions. Show that you have a plan, and nothing is up in the air in your life.
Maintain Open Posture
Maintaining an open posture shows people that you are approachable, friendly, and non-threatening. That is, you should not cross your arms or your legs. It would help if you tried to talk with your hands and display your palms as much as possible. And you should pay attention to posture, making sure your back is straight, and your head is held high.
Establish Proper Eye Contact
Deep eye contact makes the other person feel respected and safe is extremely important, but it’s easier said than done; just staring intently for the whole conversation often turns awkward and creepy, aka not soothing at all. Making eye contact that is just intent enough without being weird is a whole science.
Listen, Then Formulate a Response
People can tell when you are genuinely listening to them versus waiting for them to finish
talking so you can respond. And the latter of those two is definitely not helpful in becoming a soothing presence.
Instead of thinking up a response to a dilemma or complaint while listening to it, try devoting 100% of your brainpower to listening. Then after the other person finishes talking, you can get busy thinking of a response. It will make for a slightly slower conversation, but it will also make the conversation more calming.
Don’t Change the Topic
To become a soothing presence, you need to go with the flow. That means not trying to change the course of the conversation, even if it is headed into dark topics you’re not super psyched to talk about. The person you’re talking to needs to know this is their time to talk, and you’re just keeping them company on the ride.
Just as your actions should be decisive, so should your words. When you make an assertion, even if it is a subjective opinion, you should sound 100% sure. It’s okay if you need to take some unnaturally long pauses to process information, as long as you come back afterward with a decisive thought.
There are even certain ways of vocalizing that are shown to be more soothing.
When people are stressed, the main reason is usually that they feel alone in their situation. If you can step into their shoes and empathize with them, it will instantly lift a huge weight off their shoulders.
An important part of soothing someone is showing them they are right for feeling the things they do. That means many statements like “yes, you’re completely right, and remember that…” It might seem a little condescending, but condescension isn’t always a bad thing if it is honest.
Being a soothing presence isn’t as hard as most people think. Try it out next time one of your loved ones is in need, and hopefully, you’ll agree with us!
Do you have any experience soothing those close to you? If so, please share it in the comments section below!