When a friend or loved one has something bad happen to them, what should you do to help them feel better? This question can be difficult to answer because people want different things at different times: empathy, problem-solving, optimism, distraction, and so on.

We propose that there are four general states that a person may be in when something bad happens, and that knowing which of these states they are in can help you figure out how you can best comfort them.

Read more on Clearer Thinking.