Helen, one of our team members recently talked to us about something a colleague once said to her that she felt was a really incredibly valuable piece of advice.
"You have to learn to be comfortable in silence. Sometimes, it is the best support you can give"
It's not something that as people who offer companionship services, often talk about widely. However it's a really important factor of support to consider. Knowing when to offer words of comfort and knowing when being silent with somebody is what they need in that moment can have it's own distinct impact on someone.
"I'd never really thought about it before even though it's something I'd had to do in the past- sit in silence with someone processing bad news where there wasn't anything I could have said that would have helped or soothed them. It really made me appreciate that it is as important to be comfortable in someone's silence as it is to know when to offer words of comfort"
When we talk about companionship often we think about things such as offering friendly conversation, making a cup of tea, or taking someone to an activity. It's not often that we widely talk about times of what many people would call 'awkward silence', but in actual fact, silence can sometimes be the best support you can give. That's why it's important to learn to be comfortable in silence. Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer a cup of tea and sit beside someone to offer a hand of comfort without the pressure of encouraging a conversation they may not feel ready to have. Or even to do some simple tasks while they take some time to process what's happening around them so they don't have to feel overwhelmed later on with small jobs that they might not have the emotional energy to manage.
"Often, when we're on the phone or having a conversation with someone, particularly if we don't know them well- silence can feel awkward. It can feel like we should be saying something to break the tension. It's a really valuable skill to recognise that your reaction to silence may not match how the other person feels. They may need that pause- they may just need the reassurance that you're with them and willing to wait until they're ready talk, or to continue to talk."
Befriending encapsulates many types of support, going to activities, chatting, dancing, joking, checking in on people; or simply being comfortable in silence when that's what someone needs.
Do you have any thoughts or experiences of when silence has been a valuable asset of support for you or someone you know? Email your thoughts to us at email@example.com