How to offer help as a peer
Have you ever walked into the office and noticed one of your peers is struggling? Have you ever wanted to help but were unsure of what words to say? Oftentimes, it can be hard to offer help to someone of the same age or status. It can feel as though you do not have words to offer that they don’t already know. However, what you have to offer is likely more helpful than you think.
The support you bring to a peer often goes beyond spoken words. It is important to create a warm and accepting environment for your coworker, friend, teammate, etc. This allows them to know you are here to help and support them, regardless of any barriers or insecurities you or they may feel. Your peer will most likely remember the way you made them feel, rather than the words that were spoken.
You can help create this environment by letting your peer know you are here to listen. Listening to what your peer is saying and allowing them to feel what they are feeling without judgement or critique, is one way to create this warm and accepting environment. Empathy is another key element to assist in putting others at ease. Putting yourself in your peer’s shoes and validating what they are feeling can offer more help than any words you say.
It is often said that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Read the signs. It’s important to ask yourself, what is my peer needing right now? Are they just needing someone to listen and validate them? Are they needing advice or a different perspective to what they are going through? Tuning in to that non-verbal communication will guide you on how to best respond.
Make it simple! Offering help to your peer does not have to use a lot of energy. Finding little ways to let your peer know they are seen and valued can go a long way. You may be grabbing yourself a cup of coffee and pick one up for them as well. Add an encouraging or inspirational note to an email or text. This might even take the form of a simple smile you give to those who pass by.
Use your unique experience! As a peer, you have insight that others do not. Whether you are both the same age going through the same life experiences, work at the same job, or are on the same sports team, you have shared experiences. If it is a similar struggle you have gone through, let them know you have felt that way and offer what has helped you. Your perspective from your shared experience might be exactly what they need right now!