While you can help this person with positive talk, draw the line at comparisons.
A person with low self-esteem might say, “I’m not really smart; not as smart as you are,” to which you can respond, “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m trying not to compare myself to others and I would appreciate it if you’d do the same.
It can be painful to see someone with low self-esteem suffer in conversation, as he constantly puts himself down or refuses to accept positive feedback.
Talking to such a person may leave you with the feeling that you can’t give him enough reassurance.
He has a daily struggle to feel “good enough” by standards he likely doesn’t apply to other people.
Your small compliment will give him a reason to think better of himself.
On top of contributing to anxiety and depression, low self-esteem can also cause problems in friendships and romantic relationships, because the person who struggles with self-esteem seeks constant reassurance from others.
The Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin recommends that people with poor self-esteem seek support from their friends in this way.
Stay honest, and make a point to compliment this man’s actions, intelligence, loyalty, or sense of humor in a sincere way.
While you can certainly recommend that your friend get counseling to help him overcome this issue, you can also support him in conversation by continuing to compliment him sincerely, not allowing him to compare himself with others, and directing the conversation toward mutually interesting topics.Poor self-esteem begins at a young age, notes clinical psychologist Celeste Gertsen.