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Tips: Giving Support When a Friend or Partner Does Something "Stupid"
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, August 2011

Everyone has done something "stupid" in their life. Most of us, more often than not. Losing the keys, having a wallet stolen, realizing when you are en route to the airport that you don't have your passport, forgetting to print out directions, leaving food outside of the refrigerator each, in its own way, make a person feel awful about the fact that they were not focused, mindful, or paying attention when whatever it was, occurred.

Whether it is your friend or your partner who made the mistake, you can be confident that they don't feel so great about it. Criticism does not help and will very likely intimidate and hurt their feelings - neither of which will help solve the problem.

Consider the following tips next time this happens:

Control Your Response. - You will likely feel frustrated and upset and whatever else you may feel, but that does not give you permission to insult your friend or call them "stupid."

Respond with Empathy. - You can say something like, "Oh, that's awful" or "I am sure you feel dreadful," "Is there any way I can be helpful?" Be supportive. Show compassion.

Appreciate that your friend or partner may feel worried, embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed, among other feelings. Your reproach, attack, or condemnation will only hurt your relationship in the end.

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