Economic emotional recovery: How to be sensitive when talking to friends who don’t have much

have and have nots

There is an aristocracy of the sensitive. They represent the true human tradition of permanent victory over cruelty and chaos.

E. M. Forster

Since the great recession you may be among the people who have bounced back financially and emotionally. Let’s face it though, even if you have recovered, we all were pretty scared for at least a couple of years. Imagine how this might feel for those who haven’t rebounded. Pretty bad, huh?

Well, it’s one thing to have had a fairly middle class life and to have lost it in the past few years. It’s another thing to have those who were in your social circle go on about their business without nary an acknowledgement of your situation. They may talk about buying and selling houses, their cash out, their retirement, their bonuses and their promotions. Meanwhile you sit across from them at a table in a restaurant barely able to pay your half of the bill, no less pick up the check like you used to.

It astounds you that they can be so insensitive. It is as though the American middle class has been torn in two, those who were lucky enough to find a way to prosper and those who are treading water and about to drown. Why can’t they see this too? Why do they continue to ignore your dire situation?

Really, I think it’s because they can see how easily the wrong move at the wrong time or a sudden misfortune could put them exactly in the seat you are in now, looking across the table at someone they no longer have all those “things” in common with. The American Dream gone haywire…

So…some sensitivity is in order here. If you’re doing well, don’t talk about this too much to others who are spending their last bit of savings on necessities. Ask them how they are doing and listen. Don’t make suggestions about how they can get out of the hole they are in unless there is a realistic way you can provide assistance. They already have tried everything you can think of and more. If you feel that your assistance might obligate you or embarrass them you can always help anonymously.

If you have more, now is the time to pitch in and help your less fortunate friends. A recovery is no fun for anyone if a whole lot of people are left out. Fulfill the social contract: give them a way back in.