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In times of tragic loss or despair, we have this automatic, default and knee-jerk reaction to apologise and say, "I'm sorry to hear about...". So much so we have no idea what it means.

I never thought much about this at all, and said it myself on many occasions, until I took part in a Lifeline "Accidental Counsellor" course a couple of years ago.

The instructor was clear, saying "I'm sorry..." is not showing empathy, it is actually making it about you and not them. It could even be an easy way out of not truly engaging a deeper connection with someone when they need it most.

Right now more than ever, when I am talking to those close to me and even people I have just met, I have far deeper conversations and generally, we "connect" quickly. I am not a lover of small-talk and avoid where possible, sometimes this causing me not to connect with people at all, and that's fine if that's not what they are after.

But us men are tricky. We can struggle to go deep so quickly. And when a crisis happens, we may try to help or say something, but being effective and connecting is rare.

Based on this theme, here are a few ideas for you on how to show true empathy when it's clear connection is the answer:

"Do you want to talk? I will not try and give you advice but I can listen for as long as you need"

"Do you know how brave and strong you truly are, just for opening up?

"You are incredibly important to at least one person, and that's more than enough in this world"

"You are a hero of mine just for speaking about this"

"It's a good idea to see a professional, a GP, Psychologist, Psychiatrist"


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