How to Express Words of Sympathy

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Expressing words of sympathy is best done by making it personal, saying the deceased person's name, making small physical contact and offering support. Be sincere and personal when offering words of sympathy with advice from a nationally certified business etiquette and international protocol consultant in this free video on social etiquette.

Part of the Video Series: General Etiquette
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Video Transcript

Hello, this is Gabriela Garzon at G.G. Image & Etiquette Consulting in Miami, Florida. In this clip, we're going to talk about how to express words of sympathy. The whole point here is that if you are face-to-face with a person that you're going to express the words of sympathy to, the main points or tips that I would give is that, first of all, you need to say the person's name -- the deceased person, you know -- very...make it very personal. The other thing is that either you hug them or you just give them a pat in the...in the back or you just don't get close to them. That's either way. You don't give a handshake, you don't give...you know, either a hug or do nothing or a pat. The other thing that you also have to remember is that whenever it is that you're actually going to express the words, "I'm so sorry for Jane's passed, da-da-da," you have to make it a little personal and you never leave an open-ended offer or help. Like, if you're going to offer your help, you don't say, "Is there anything that I can help with?" because there's really nothing that you can help with the person. So you would actually offer something that the person would feel that you've been offered...offering that person sympathy. So for example, "Gabriela, I'm very sorry about the loss of John. He was a good man. If there's anything that I could do to help with the arrangements, please let me know." "Thank you." So if you notice, he was very sentimental, but at the same time, it was very, kind of like, he was there and I was here, not so much of the whole crying thing. So that's why it's not good to have too much contact. What he just did in my...in my shoulder, it's perfect because he is showing that he actually is offering sympathy. Once again, this is Gabriela Garzon at G.G. Image & Consulting in Miami, Florida.

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