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Author Topic: Supportiveness vs. nosiness  (Read 4811 times)
Brochi
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« on: December 24, 2007, 10:50:26 AM »

Hi Tali,

Maybe you can help me with this issue.  I have a feeling that one of my neighbors is going through a hard time right now.  She seems stressed out and emotional, and I would like to reach out to her and offer my moral support.  On the other hand, I want to respect her privacy and not pry into her life.  What do you suggest I do?  How can I show that I care without seeming nosy?
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Dear Tali
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2007, 05:19:13 PM »

Hi Brochi,

Before I respond, I would like to get a little more information from you.  What is your current relationship with your neighbor?  And how do you know that she is going through a difficult time (did she tell you, someone else told you, you can just tell, etc.)?  If you feel more comfortable answering these questions in private, you can send me a private message by clicking on my name on this forum entry and then selecting send a private message.  Once I get your response, I can better answer your question.

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Brochi
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 05:45:59 AM »

My current relationship with my neighbor is that we are very friendly and nice to each other, but have never really opened up to each other and cultivated a true friendship.  We try to help each other out whenever possible, always stop to shmooze when we see each other, and hold each other in mutual respect.  I'm not sure why the relationship hasn't deepened - perhaps because of time constraints and being focused on other things.
I think my neighbor is going through a hard time, because I asked her an innocent question, and all of a sudden her eyes weled up in tears, and she quicky changed the subject.  I also steered the conversation to other topics, as I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable.  Now that I fee that I got a glimpse ino her inner pain, I want to help her and show support.  What do you suggest?
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Dear Tali
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 10:50:37 PM »

Brochi,

I definitely do not think that it is nosy that you want to help your neighbor out.  It is great that you want to show her support, and I think that it says a great deal about your character.  However, unfortunately we can only support those who want and allow us to support them.  I do not think that it is nosy for you to try to show her support, but in order for you to be able to actually help her, she must meet you half-way. 

I think that you could do a few things.  One would be to be honest with her about how you felt when her eyes filled with tears and maybe mention to her that you felt bad afterwards for not checking in with her about how she was doing.  Maybe you could then mention to her that if she wants to talk to you about it or ever needs a shoulder to cry on that you are happy to be that person.   

The other option is to not address the situation that occurred, but to keep it in the back of your mind and if a similar situation happens again to not change the subject because it is uncomfortable, but to maybe instead try to push the conversation a little and ask her about the feeling she seems to be experiencing at that moment and whether there is something you can do to help.

One thing to keep in mind is that she may actually want someone to talk to,  but she may feel that if she opens up too much she may be burdening people.  If this is the case, just showing her that she is not a burden and that you want to be there for her may give her the space to open up. 

As Jews, I think that it is really important for us to care about one another, and I think that you would be building great character if you choose to support your neighbor.  But remember that you can only help someone to the extent that they allow you to help them, and it is possible that your great intentions may not always be received in the way you would like. 

Sincerely,
Dear Tali
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Brochi
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2008, 04:21:26 AM »

Dear Tali,

Thank you for your great advice.  It was very on the mark.  I feel empowered to address the situation and do what I feel is right,  but at the same time avoid guilt if I am not given the chance to be the supportive friend I want to be.
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Brochi
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2008, 04:12:01 PM »

Hi Tali!

Guess what?  I followed your advice, and after many months of being quietly supportive without being pushy, my neighbor finally told me what was going on with her that day, and thanked me for being a silent bulwark for her in times of need.  Thanks for helping me through this!
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Dear Tali
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2008, 10:00:10 PM »

Brochi,

I'm so glad to hear that things worked out with your neighbor!  I'm glad that you were able to continue being supportive of her, and it sounds like you even made a friend in the process!  Thank you for updating me on this topic.

Best,
Dear Tali
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