Don’t Judge People
Many people have hidden disabilities. Our culture teaches us that appearance is everything, but appearances can be quite deceiving. We can look perfectly “presentable” and be managing a complex problem.
Practice compassion. Don’t make assumptions. Observe. Listen. Take a breath. Enquire about what’s happening without judgement. Perhaps the person is simply tired that day but perhaps there is a deeper, more longer lasting problem – a hidden disability. We cannot know unless we ask.
You may want to consider using open-ended questions without making assumptions. Rather than saying, “Why are you being lazy or obstinate or refusing to do what I asked you to do (you get the idea)?” we can ask, “What do you need to accomplish this task?” We might learn a lot more than we think.
Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice!
Have you been diagnosed with a serious illness or have experienced a significant injury? If so, you may know this is so true! A friend of mine who has breast cancer sent this out to friends and family with a health update. It may strike a chord with you.
“Please feel free to call us. We know that it might seem hard to know exactly what to say, but please don’t let that stop you. There is no right thing to say! There’s really no wrong thing to say to her either (well – other than sad tales about your other friends, or suggestions for home remedies and trips to Mexican doctors!). You don’t have to plan any special remarks – just call to chat about the weather, or how your summer went. It’s a great help just to have down to earth and normal conversations.”