Saturday, March 22, 2008

How to be a great Consoler

Remember the last time your friend confessed to ODing on Viagra and you didn't know what to say? Or maybe your loss of words when your neighbour's dog died (which you killed). It happens to all of us. I intend to convince you today that "I don't know what to say" is not the only option.

First and foremost: Avoid cliches. Nothing sucks as much as saying "I'm sorry for you/your loss" when you don't mean it 9 out of 10 times. You need to upgrade or innovate. For ease of explanation we'll call the person in need of consolation as the Subject and the event that has pained him/her to be the Event.

Upgrade to 'Shit Happens'.
"Shit Happens" is a beautiful and concise explanation for pretty much everything that can go wrong in your life with a flavour of attitude. It is Murphy's law on steroids. You can use it on almost all occasions to make the subject feel good about the general pain that everyone goes through. I use the word 'almost' because while 'Shit Happens' can indeed be a representation of hope for a person suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it might be slightly inappropriate to use it on this woman.

Give the subject some constructive advice. If your boss complains that his wife hasn't been too active in bed, you could chip in with, "Hmm... Try tying her up. She likes it."

PS : Never try to tell the person that things will get better. He/she knows it never will and it makes them even more depressed. Instead, agree with the subject that they are in deep shit, but so are you. There is nothing more comforting than to hear that people you considered to be better off than you so far, are actually leading lives as messed up or more than yours. All that bullshit you've heard in poems about spreading your joys with others is actually quite sadistic and does nothing more than rubbing in the fact that you're happier. Spread your sorrows. Because, in the end, we're all pretty f**ked up.

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