5 Supportive Responses to Someone Revealing Their Shocking Secret

When a friend or a member of your family tells you something really sensitive about themselves, it can be hard to know how to react. Your initial reaction may be one of complete shock or even disbelief, but if the person sharing this information with you is someone close to you, you need to be able to support them, no matter what they reveal to you.

Perhaps they’ve told you that they’re pregnant, even though they already have grown-up children, or maybe they’ve been arrested for a serious crime. They may have told you that they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or they may have described symptoms to you that ring alarm bells that they are potentially seriously ill.

No matter what shocking news your friend or family member reveals, these 5 responses should help you react in a positive and supportive way.

You may also find our other article helpful: 5 Non-Judgemental Scripts to Use When Telling Someone You Care About That Their Reckless Lifestyle Choices Are Causing You Concern

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

Template 1 | Let Them Know You Understand it’s a Big Deal


Thank you for trusting me with this, I understand this isn’t to be discussed with anyone else.

If someone tells you something sensitive that is clearly not for general release, it’s important to reassure them that you can be trusted to keep that information private, and that you won’t share it with your partner, friends or family.

It may have taken a great deal of courage to tell you this news, so reassuring them that you respect their privacy and value your friendship with them will go a long way to helping them deal with whatever situation they are in.

Go on from this by encouraging them to tell you as much as they need to, and be a good listener whilst they get the whole story out.

Template 2 | Deflect Their Attention From Your Reaction by Offering Help or Making it About Them


I know of some support groups that may be of interest to you. Is this a behavior/ situation you want to change?

If someone tells you something that you feel out of your depth discussing, or asks for help that you feel unqualified to give, it can be a good idea to steer them towards a professional helpline or support group.

Perhaps someone has revealed that they are a victim of domestic abuse, that they have a gambling problem or that they are addicted to hard drugs. In situations like these, people often need specialist counselling and advice to help them get through it all.

That’s not to say that you can’t support them – simply helping them to connect with a support group or advice centre could be a real help to them, and you can continue to talk through their experiences with them at the same time as helping them to seek professional help.

Template 3 | Suggest Professional Help


Have you had a chat with your doctor about this?

If someone confides in you about a string of health issues and you start to suspect that there might be something seriously wrong with them, you need to gently steer them towards getting it all checked out with their doctor.

All too often, people put down general symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, headaches and so on to their age, or to being a little overworked, but they can be symptoms of a more serious underlying condition.

As a friend or close relative, you may be in the best position to encourage them to seek medical advice.

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on https://www.nevertherightword.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://www.nevertherightword.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://www.nevertherightword.com.

This article may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy a product, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Never the Right Word is a participant in the Awin Affiliates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to participating merchants. For more information, please view our Privacy Policy and Earnings Disclosure page.

Template 4 | Letting Them Know They Aren’t on Their Own


I can relate to how you’re feeling, because…

Even though you may not have experienced the exact same thing that your friend or relative has just told you about, if you have been through something similar, or you know someone else who has, it can be helpful to tell your friend or relative about this, especially if your story has a positive outcome.

If someone has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, recounting how your cousin died within weeks of diagnosis won’t help, obviously, but if you can share a story of excellent medical care and support, that could be of real benefit to them.

Template 5 | Offer Assistance


What specific things can I do to help you?

If your friend or relative has just revealed something to you, and you feel truly at a loss for words, this template could help. It’s neutral and non-judgemental, and it shows support without jumping to any conclusions as to the right way to proceed from this point.

The person may need some time to think about what, if any, help they need from you, so be prepared to step back and allow them time to think it all through.

If they don’t ask for help, it could be worth repeating your offer of support at a later date, but don’t push them into thinking that they have to accept help if they don’t need it.

Dealing with shocking news is never easy. Our natural reaction is to express our surprise through our facial expressions and to blurt out the first thing that comes into our heads.

Obviously, neither of these things are helpful to the person who has just revealed the news, so if you can train yourself to control your emotions a little, that may help.

If you do express complete shock, talk about this with the person, and explain to them why you are so surprised. Try to do this in a matter of fact way, and as succinctly as possible, without being overly-dramatic or going into too much detail.

We wouldn’t be human beings if we were able to be perfectly composed in every situation, so don’t worry too much if your jaw drops when someone tells you the news that you weren’t expecting to hear.

It’s not the end of the world, and what you need to concentrate on is what you do next – so gather your composure, think through what you’ve just heard, and then commit to helping and supporting your friend in whatever way is possible.

Remember that whilst it is important to find the right words, it’s just as important to be a good listener too.

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.   

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.  

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

About NTRW

Scripts & Templates for Life’s Uncomfortable Conversations. NTRW is supported by adverts and affiliate marketing links. For more info, please see our Earnings Disclosure.

This site does not constitute legal, mental, or medical health advice, please consult a competent licensed professional. If you have questions please Contact Us.

Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

Popular Articles...

Relevant Books We Recommend...

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age (Paperback)

Celebrating the 75 anniversary of the renowned self-improvement bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, comes a refreshed adaptation of Carnegie’s timeless prescriptions for the digital age. We love this classic because it teaches the reader how to shift their mindset to make life more engaging and rewarding which increasing being more and relevant in today's society. How to win friends and influence people in the digital age is one of the best books to help you learn how to be influential. Anyone who is willing to read in-between the lines can see that there is power in Carnegie's insights. You can get your copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie & Associates by CLICKING HERE.  

Nonviolent Communication 3rd Ed (Paperback)

In Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, author Rosenberg presents his strategies for speaking our deepest truths, addressing our needs and emotions, and honoring those same concerns in others. Over the past 35 years, author Marshall Rosenberg has peacefully resolved conflicts in various situations such as families and workplaces across the world in 30 countries. This book outlines his secrets to communicate successfully in professional and personal relationships. Nonviolent Communication teaches the reader the art of observing others without judgment, authentic communication when it comes to our own needs and feelings, and learning to not take negative responses personally. CLICK HERE to get your copy of Nonviolent Communication.

It's Ok That You'Re Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand (Paperback)

In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, author Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. In this compelling book, you’ll learn why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief. You'll learn how challenging the myths of grief—doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold—allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve. You'll receive practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying your pain being a problem you need to 'fix.' Lastly, you'll learn how to help the people you love. CLICK HERE to buy your copy.

The Laws of Human Nature

Before we make assumptions, first, we should seek to understand. The Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense. We are all social creatures, our very lives depend on our relationships with others. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess when it comes to building core personal and professional relationships which ultimately play a huge part in the success of our lives. Whether in the workplace, in personal relationships, or communicating on a much grander scale; understanding and allowing human nature is the key to become less judgemental of people and ourselves. CLICK HERE  to get your copy of The Laws of Human Nature.

Pin Never the Right Word on Pinterest!

Like Our Site? These Are the Resources We Recommend.

To build this site we used these highly recommended tried-and-tested tools:

We Trust Elegant Themes

The Elegant Themes membership gives you complete access to 87 amazing themes and 3 awesome plugins, including Divi, the ultimate WordPress Theme and Visual Page builder. Elegant Themes have been building the world's most popular WordPress themes for the past 10 years, and rest assured their products will always be improved and maintained. 

Divi WordPress Theme

We Build With Divi Theme

One of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Building layouts is easy and fast, making it ideal to create mockups and wireframes, prototyping a design, and creating the website itself. Build from the frontend or backend. The builder is intuitive. It's easy to learn and can be used by non-developers to create amazing websites. Check out the official Divi Theme here.

Divi Cake is a community driven marketplace for Divi Child Themes, Builder Layouts, and Plugins - Shop Now!

We Customize With Divi Cake Plugins

Divi Cake’s main goal is to help the members of the Divi community find the perfect premium Divi themes, layouts, and plugins created by leading Divi developers and designers. Shop hundreds of premium Divi products like Divi child themes, Divi layouts, and Divi plugins on Divi Cake, the community driven Divi Marketplace. Find out more about Divi Cake here.

We ❤️Shutterstock Media

We get our images from the OG leader in stock assets. Boost your business with the right images. They're royalty-free and ready to use. Footage & Music Libraries. 4k Images Added per Hour. No Daily Download Limit. Speedy Search & Discovery. With flexible plans and countless amounts of premium content uploaded weekly, we couldn't leave Shutterstock off our list.

Skill-Up With LinkedIn Learning

When you want to enhance your professional skills with expert-led, online video tutorials, the only place to go is LinkedIn Learning (Lynda). With a subscription you get 24/7, unlimited access to over 13,000 business, design & tech online courses and with a free month. We like them because we get expert-led courses that we can access anytime, anywhere. What's not to love?

Web Hosting

We're Hosted With SiteGround

SiteGround boasts a whole list of fantastic features at amazingly affordable prices. Along with multiple growth options, free site transfers and domains, built in Content Delivery Network integrations, WordPress support AND human support we wouldn't go to anyone else. They're basically faster, safer and more supportive- you can check them out here.

We Trust Grammarly Premium

Even seasoned writers need a helping hand at times, that’s why we trust Grammarly Premium. As the World's Most Accurate Online Grammar Checker, Grammarly Premium goes beyond grammar to help you ensure that everything you write is clear, engaging, and professional. Learn more about Grammarly Premium’s AI-powered assistant here.

Find Graphics With Creative Market

Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. Bring your creative projects to life with ready-to-use design assets from independent creators around the world. We love the unique finds, social media templates, vectors you name it they have it. I also doesn't hurt that our founder has a little store on there...

Powered by Creative Market

Powered by Creative Market

Contact Us

Email Us

Never the Right Word
Building 19475
PO Box 6945
United Kingdom

Follow NTRW

Support NTRW

Donating to Never the Right Word will
help us produce more content and keep us accessible to all.
Thank you!

Stay in the Loop

error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest