How to help a friend: Relationships

October 8, 2013

By Mifa Kim, senior, peer educator with Counseling and Psychological Services

My name is Mifa Kim. I’m a senior studying psychology and a peer educator at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). I am spreading the word about the How to Help a Friend campaign, an online resource with information and advice on how CU community members can help friends or other people in their lives who may be encountering various challenges.

Maintaining positive relationships, whether it is with a partner, with friends, co-workers, classmates, roommates or professors, is an important aspect of a meaningful college experience. Even in the best relationships, it can be challenging to communicate about differences, ask for our needs, express concerns and resolve conflicts.

Common Myth About Relationships: People in “happy” relationships don’t argue.

Reality: Relationships involve communication and teamwork. Arguing is not automatically a sign of weakness or of an unhealthy relationship. In fact, learning how to resolve conflicts and engage in healthy communication can actually improve relationships.

Below are some tips on engaging in healthy communication. You can use these in your own relationships or share them with a friend who might be having a difficult time in their relationships.

Communication tips:

  • Don't assume the other person knows what you are thinking or feeling; communicate your feelings to them. Likewise, don't assume you know how they are feeling or thinking, and instead ask them.
  • Be an active listener - express back to the other person what you understand his/her thoughts and feelings are.
  • Know what you're arguing about. Be specific, limited and direct with your complaint. Try to resolve one issue before moving on to another.
  • Stay in the present; use current examples of behaviors that are upsetting you.
  • Avoid generalizing and exaggerating. This includes statements like, "You never..." or "I'm always..."
  • Avoid giving ultimatums or making idle threats.
  • Count to 10, or more if you're feeling attacked. Try not to take the person's anger personally.
  • Be willing to compromise - express your interest in coming to a solution, which is satisfactory for both of you.
  • Discuss each other's perceptions. Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand why they might view things differently.

Pick out a good time to talk:

  • Deal with big issues as soon as possible, preferably when you're both prepared to deal with them. Make and keep an appointment to talk if necessary.
  • Deal with issues as they arise and try to let go of anger generated by trivial issues.
  • Avoid bringing up an issue at a time that might be embarrassing, which could be in front of friends, family or co-workers.
  • If the disagreement isn't resolved right away, make an appointment to finish it later. The amount of time needed to process thoughts and emotions may vary from person to person.

Resources:

How to Help a FriendWant more information on adjustment or more topics? Worried about someone? This is a peer-to-peer resource to help students help each other.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)—A free counseling resource for CU Boulder students. CAPS offer six free sessions per academic year and free workshops and groups. They have walk-in hours from M-F, 10am-4pm. They are located at the Center for Community (C4C) at S440. 303-492-6766.     

Events:

How To Help a Friend Get Together—Get your tea and cookies on! If you have questions about resources or just want to stop by to say hello, you can join me every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 12:30-2 p.m. at the Foyer (near the Norlin Commons information desk) at the Norlin Library. It’s free too!

The next How to Help a Friend Get Together will be on Oct. 9, 12:30 - 2 p.m. at the Norlin Library.

Wellness Thursdays—Health and Wellness presents a topic each month to help students stay in charge of their health. This outreach event will be talking about environmental, biological and psychological variables that impede our health. Come by on the first Thursday of each month. The next event will be November 7th 1-2:30pm at Norlin Commons (By the Information desk). 

Men’s group—Connect with other men to gain the support and inspiration you need. We explore all the things we face as men, including: relationships, social dynamics, troublesome behaviors, hopes and dreams, work and life direction, and masculinity in general. Advanced registration is required; please fill out this survey to sign up.

Women’s Group—This group is for undergraduate women who want to focus on interesting self-awareness and examining how patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving are influencing their relationships with others. Advanced registration is required; please fill out this survey to sign up.

Give FeedbackSee More Photos View Photo