What do you say when a stranger gets too close to comfort on the sidewalk? Or when a friend’s job is furloughed? Or when you feel judged for too little (or too much) social distancing?
This pandemic has brought about both difficult and awkward situations Thankfully, DoSayGive is here to help know “what to say” and how to say it graciously.
There is a broad spectrum of opinions when it comes to social distancing. Instead of focusing on the choices or actions of others, it’s better to frame responses so that the burden is on oneself. Humility in words and kindness in tone go quite a long way in conversation.
When a stranger gets within six feet on the sidewalk or at the grocery…
“Hello there! I am going to step aside here as I am trying to social distance as much as I can.” You can still be friendly and chat as you pass by – from a distance!
“I know you’ll understand, Sir, but I’m trying to stay six feet apart from others as best as I can.”
If you have a child with you, you can make it a teaching moment instead of directing blame to other person and say in a kind, but noticeable, way.
“Honey, let’s make sure we stay at least six feet away from this nice lady” as you step back.
To a friend/family member that gets within six feet…
“I know I’m probably paranoid but I just don’t want to be an unknowing carrier the virus and pass it to you. So let’s stand six feet apart just to be safe.”
When someone wants to socialize but you don’t want to hurt their feelings…
“We would love to come but we are still trying to social distance as much as possible. Hopefully we can soon though!”
“Oh we would love to do that, but we are being pretty cautious about social distancing. You can also add something like “in case we see grandparents soon or because have an immune compromised family member.”
When you don’t agree with the social distancing choices of friends (and social media friends)…
Keep graciously silent. Most people believe they are doing the right thing. Like politics, arguing or judging rarely leads to anything fruitful. Stay in your own lane – and that your own lane might mean staying at home more so you don’t stress/judge the actions of others.
When someone judges your social distancing choices…
“I know you’ll understand that we’re doing what we think is best for our family right now.”
When your children ask why social distancing looks different in other families…
“Parents have to make the best choices they can for their families. This is what we believe is best for our family right now and that may look different from other families – and that’s okay. We aren’t saying it’s always going to be this way. Just right now.”
This post has more ways to talk to children about the virus.
When your aging parents don’t social distance and you want them to…
In love, express your concerns. Offer to run errands or send groceries. But then understand that they are adults able to weigh risk and make decisions. They have the right to do what they want. This post has more ideas.
This is a time of hardship for many families and so often we feel the pressure (or the temptation) to say something profound, helpful or comforting to the person suffering. Remember that nothing you say is magically going to fix a situation or take away their pain. “I am so sorry,” and “I am praying for you,” are always safe and comforting to hear in difficult times and, most of all, being available to just listen is the most helpful gesture you can make. Here are some other things to say:
When someone loses their job…
“I am so sorry that happened. I know you were so dedicated to that company.”
“Do you want to talk about it over the phone?” You know I am here for you.”
“How can I help? I will definitely keep my ears open and will pray for the right opportunity to come quickly.”
“Let me know if I can introduce you to any of my colleagues/contacts.” (And follow through!)
When someone is furloughed…
Don’t ask for the details (“Are you still getting paid???”) unless they offer.
“Oh I am sorry to hear that. I know that’s got to be very stressful right now.”
“Do you talk on the phone later?”
When a friend is worried about her family’s finances…
Be sensitive when talking about your recent purchases, vacation plans, etc. Instead give her an opportunity to open up about her struggles and let her know you are there for her:
“This pandemic has put a strain on so many families in different ways. How can I pray for your and your family?”
“How can I help?” to a closer friend.
When someone loses a loved one…
‘I am so sorry for your loss and that you can’t grieve as one normally would because of this pandemic.”
“We are praying for your family.”
With stress levels high, it can be tempting to say something we regret. Hold your tongue when you can but here are some other things we can say or do:
When someone complains about a first world problem…
People are having very different experiences right now. One friend’s biggest struggle might be finding someone to make repairs on her lake house. While another friend struggles with working from home while homeschooling as a single mom. Others may have lost their job or many of their customers.
Meet people where they are in life and have (and pray for!) a lot grace in conversations. Sometimes that means not saying anything at all. It might mean limiting conversations if you are really bothered by it. You can simply and sincerely say:
“That has to be so frustrating.”
For close friends and family, you can speak in truth and love:
“That’s got to be frustrating. But, goodness, aren’t we thankful that we have our health and homes right now.”
Bottom line: season conversations with grace and gentleness in all circumstances.
When you need to say no to a favor/commitment…
“I know you’ll understand but I’ve just got too much on my plate right now.”
When a blogger posts something on Instagram that is out of touch, insensitive or makes you have negative or resentful feelings.
Don’t comment. Unfollow and don’t look back.
When a friend’s posts are giving you those same feelings…
Mute them! They won’t know you muted them (like they may if you unfollow) and you won’t see their posts. You can always unmute later.
What situations do you need a “what to say” for? And share your gracious responses below!
Are there other situations you’d add to this list? Comment below so we can share as a resource for everyone.
Sources: Vase c/o Lauren Haskell Designs