When you catch up with a friend or work colleague how do you say hello and see how they are?
- Howz you?
- You alright?
- Morning! Howz things?
With any of these greeting do you actually listen for an answer other than “I’m fine”, “Good Ta”, “Alright”? Probably not – and that is ok if it is just a greeting. But what if you really wanted to know how someone is OR the person you are talking to wanted to talk about how they are really feeling to you..
The reality is that most of us won’t talk about our real feelings and our mental health when someone asks us how we are in a quick greeting. This might be because we don’t want to burden others or we don’t want to discuss something so personal when we pass on the street/stairs/coffee shop. It also might be because we don’t have the confidence in that moment to talk about our feelings. Whatever the reason, if you really want to know how someone is you need to ask twice.
Here is a little example conversation for you between me and a freelancer event manager colleague the other day:
Katie: “Hi J, long time no speak, howz you?”
J: “Yeah not bad thanks, how are you?”
Katie: “Yeah alright thanks. How are you getting on finding work? I’m still struggling a bit.”
J: “Yeah I’m finding it really tough to be honest.”
Katie: “It is really hard isn’t it, are you ok about it all though?”
J: “Actually I’m really struggling…”
When you read a conversation like this you can see how easy it is for someone who is struggling to brush their feelings under the carpet when what they really need to do is talk about it. By asking someone ‘how are you?’ twice, you are showing that you really care and giving them proper time to articulate how the feel.
Starting a conversation when you are concerned about someone’s mental health can feel quite difficult. This was a big concern in the group of event managers taking part in the First Aid for Mental Health distance learning course I held last week. But, as we found when we tried role play conversations and different scenarios on each other, asking twice doesn’t have to mean “How are you, How are you?”. It can be a couple of different questions in the same style, they can be within a conversation so the questions flow and they can be completely in your tone of voice and in a way the person you are worried about is likely to feel at ease and therefore open up more.
Have you ever thought about how you ask someone how they are? Have you ever asked them twice when you are concerned? Why not have a think of all the many ways you can ask someone how they are feeling – I think you will be surprised how easy it is to start a proper conversation with someone you are worried about.
I am running my next First Aid for Mental Health distance learning course on Monday 23rd August at 9am. If you are interested in joining or would like to discuss running a private course for your business or team, please pop me a message, I would love to chat; firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally, if you are worried about your own mental health, maybe thinking you don’t feel like your ‘usual’ self, please don’t be afraid to talk. Confide in a loved one/friend if you can and see your GP for support. There is someone out there wanting to talk to you.