Do you worry ever about saying the wrong thing?

Word count: 286 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s writing comes from Susan Silk and Barry Goldman.

Today, I’m going to break my own rule. Instead of giving you a single sentence, I’m suggesting you read an entire article.  It’s not that it’s particularly brilliantly written — although it’s certainly clear and easy to read. It’s selling point is that it offers some of the most insightful “people-management” advice I’ve encountered recently. It’s only 793 words so reading it won’t take you more than about 3 minutes.

Titled How Not To Say The Wrong Thing (what a great headline!), it appeared in the LA Times on April 7/13.

The essay describes what to say to people who are sick, perhaps very sick. I’m in my 50s now and have already encountered more than my share of friends and family who have had to face illness and death. I like to be supportive and I dread saying the wrong thing so I found this primer extraordinarily helpful. Also, as the mother of a child with a genetic disorder who was very sick for a time in her early childhood, I can testify that people do say the damnedest things when sickness is involved.

If I had to pick just one sentence from the entire article, it would be this:

People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice.

Truer words were never spoken. Read the article and follow the guidelines the authors suggest. You will be doing not just yourself a favour, but also helping your family and friends.

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