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Suggesting and Communication Breakdown…

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You have had a long day….you are feeling tired and frustrated.  It seems everything at work went wrong that day…your computer had a virus that made the internet painfully slow…you accidentally shredded important notes for a presentation you were writing…it’s storming and you forgot your umbrella and your car is parked 3 blocks away…you also forgot your lunch and all there is in the break room are doughnuts AND you are on a diet…etc, etc, etc.

Ever had one of those days?

So when you finally get in your car after work, soaking wet from the rain, you decide to call your sister. She always picks up her cell phone.

“Hi Jennifer, this is your little sis. “

“Hi little sis, how are you? Are you leaving work?”

“Jennifer I had one of those days. It seems everything went wrong. First this happened…and then this and then this and so on and so on and so on.”

“Hey little sis hold on … why didn’t you do this? I would have done this! This would have been the best way to fix this issue and on and on and on…”


What just happened?

Communication breakdown.

Do you know why?

Do you know the difference between supporting and suggesting?

To support is to encourage, to listen, to allow someone to vent. To suggest is to give advice, or help according to your opinion. To suggest when someone is looking for support can be a source of real communication breakdown – particularly if it is a pattern of behavior. Suggestions are wonderful – when the other is looking for help; but often, as in this case, the other was looking for some support or compassion.

To support or to suggest? Do  you know the difference?

If unsure – in conversation with friends, spouses, or family members – it’s ok to ask…

Are you looking for support or may I offer a suggestion?

Sometimes we need someone to simply be there… Not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just to let us feel we are supported and cared about. ~ Anonymous



I am a therapist at Family Counseling Services, a division of Lifelines Counseling Services in Mobile, Alabama.

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