What (Not) To Say To Someone Who Failed The Bar Exam
Unfortunately, not everyone passes the bar exam their first time around. It is nothing to be ashamed of and many successful lawyers have failed the bar exam. When someone fails the bar exam they have to deal with a whole array of feelings that come with failing. After failing the bar exam they will come to terms with how to approach this failure. One of the things they may be worried about is how to talk about failing the bar exam with their friends and family. You can make this easier for them by knowing what to say to someone who has failed the bar exam. Below are things not to say and things you should say.
What (Not) To Say To Someone Who Failed The Bar Exam
Things Not to Say to Someone Who Failed the Bar Exam
1. “It will be okay.”
Sure they may know that deep down everything will be okay. But it sure won’t feel like it at first. Failing the bar exam may very well turn their world upside down and while it is not the end of the world, it sure may feel like it.
Saying “It will be okay” has the effect of ignoring how that person is feeling right now. Their feelings of anger, hopelessness, and sadness are all very real. Don’t dismiss these feelings by just saying it will be okay. Saying “it will be okay” essentially ignores how they are feeling right now and suggesting that it will all be okay in the future. It will be but talking about the future does not help them deal with the right now.
2. “I understand how you feel.”
Even if you have failed the bar, you have no idea how that feels for someone else. When talking to someone who has failed the bar exam, you should make it less about your experience and more about theirs.
If you only talk about your experiences you may be showing that you are not really listening to their experience and how they are feeling. They may view it as a dismissal of their own feelings. Let them tell you how it feels for them, it may be completely different than it was for you.
3. “What are you going to do?”
This really is none of your business. When speaking to someone who has failed the bar exam you should be focusing on providing emotional support. You don’t need to know their plan for the future. If they need your advice on what to do next they will ask for it.
Of course, this may be different if you are their future employer or a partner supporting them financially. If you need to know what the plan for them retaking it, then sit down and have a conversation with them that acknowledges their feelings, reassures them that they will get through it, and is sensitive to the seriousness of the situation.
4. “You should study this way.”
Unless you are their bar tutor or instructor, don’t give unsolicited bar exam study advice. What worked for you might not work for them. You do not know what in their study plan or their exam-taking plan went wrong. Do not offer ways to correct this if you do not know what needs to be fixed. If they want your advice, they will ask for it. Then feel free to offer whatever suggestions you may have.
Things You Should Say to Someone Who Failed the Bar Exam
1. “I’m here for you if you need anything.”
Letting your loved one who has failed the bar exam know that you are there for them lets them know that they can reach out to you if they need to.
Some people may feel like they have no one to turn to after failing the bar exam. They may not have felt able to talk to it before you say this. Just letting them know you are there for them is a big step in the right direction.
2. Don’t say anything, just listen to them.
Sometimes there is nothing you can say to someone who has failed the bar exam. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to listen to how your loved one feels. Encourage them to share what they want to share about how they feel and be attentive to how they are feeling. Sometimes, people just need to talk it out without offers of advice or comfort. So just listen. It will help.
3. “Did you see the latest episode?” “We should try that new Indian place.” “Did you hear what Debra just did?”
Life goes on. You can show this to your friend or family member who failed the bar exam by saying the things to them you would normally say to them. Talking about everyday things and making everyday plans can help them realize that life goes on after failing the bar exam. This is an important step in moving forward!
Note: you should not change the subject when they talk about failing the bar exam or ignore that they failed the bar exam!
Actions speak louder than words. Being a good friend overall is better than having the exact perfect thing to say.
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