How to reply to even the most impossible problems & posts.
There will always be a post now and again that seems almost impossible to reply to, and this is usually because it's a complicated situation, or because there are lots of issues that the poster is dealing with and, although you'd like to reply and give your support, you just don't know where to start. In an aim to combat this problem, a few things you may want to consider whilst replying, are:
- Read through the post properly.
The best way to tackle anything difficult is to evaluate the situation fully before you begin, to avoid confusion and be more prepared for your task. If there's a long, detailed post with a variety of problems and concerns then reading it through properly to begin with will ensure that you have as full an understanding of what the poster is asking/wanting/whatever as possible and, as a result, be more able to give appropriate advice and support.
- Pick out the main point(s)/problem(s).
Most likely, the more difficult posts will be quite long and full of background information and details of the problem in hand but not all of it will always be relevant whilst you're replying and so, whilst you're reading it through thoroughly, take a mental note of the main point(s) or problem(s) that you feel you can reply to. As a result, your reply will be more specific and to-the-point and probably won't take you as long to write!
- Use links on the main site.
It's something that can benefit the thread-starter so much and definitely something you should consider when replying as it increases the amount of advice and support that you're providing. It's perfectly understandable that not everyone will always know what to say in reply to some problems and that is what these articles are for and by showing them to the people that need them the most in this way is only helping other members gain the maximum help from RYL and its resources.
- Share experiences.
You may not know how to solve someone's problems but that doesn't mean that you cannot help. Sometimes just letting the poster know that you can empathise with what they're saying and how they're feeling, or have been through something similar to what they're experiencing can be extremely helpful and make them feel less alone, isolated and as though no one understands what they're going through. Something that RYL promotes strongly is the the idea that "You're not alone any more...
" and so just because you cannot give them advice on how to fix their problems, just letting them know you understand can be a huge help.
- What would you do?
There are few members on this site that are mental health professionals, or have qualifications on how best to deal with eating disorders, depression and the various other issues that members may be struggling to cope with, but what most members have that most people in "real life" don't have is experience. You may have been in a similar position and so you have a better understanding of what does and doesn't work than others and it's important that you share this experience and knowledge, which is one of the best things about RYL. You don't have to advise the same way the professionals would or suggest things that professionals would; you can simply say what did and didn't work for you, and how you personally overcame the problem the poster is finding it hard to deal with. So, whilst replying, ask yourself - what would I do in this situation? and then share your thoughts and opinions on how the poster could deal with their problem.
- Ask questions if you're not sure about something.
The more you know about someone and the situation they're in then the more you're able to help them and so it's important to ask questions if you feel it could help you to help the thread-starter a little bit more. When someone is feeling so desperate for support they're bound to miss out some of the finer details and information, but that doesn't mean, when you're trying to reply to these threads, you cannot ask. An added bonus is that by asking questions, you're letting the thread-starter know that you are interested in them and that you do genuinely want to help.
- Remember that you don't have to address every single problem.
As I've already said, you won't know the answers to everything but that doesn't mean you cannot reply. If there's one thing amongst twenty that you feel you could help the thread-starter with, then post it! Don't feel as though you have to cover everything or write a twenty-page reply - just do what you can, because anything is better than nothing at all.
A large percentage of RYL'ers know what it's like to spend a long time writing a post and then not receiving any replies, and how awful and neglected that can make you feel when other posts around you are getting replied to with no problem whatsoever. It's important that no member here at RYL feels ignored or as though they cannot be helped, which is a very common assumption when you've posted about a large amount of issues or an extremely complex situation and no one feels able to or doesn't seem to want to reply. By just taking ten minutes out of your day to read through a post like this and reply, you're giving the thread-starter hope and, more obviously, offering them some support and information and giving them an insight into how much support and help RYL and its members have to offer.
By picking out these more complex posts and replying to them, the amount of support at RYL becomes more constant overall because there isn't a gap in the help that's being provided due to the fact that the posts are then being replied to, whereas before they would not have been replied to.