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R U OK? Tips for holding a conversation

2017 09 13 RUOK

RU OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, “Are you ok?” and support those struggling with life.

Do you ever have the feeling that someone you know or care about isn’t behaving as they normally would? Perhaps they seem out of sorts? More agitated or withdrawn? Or they’re just not themselves. If so, then trust that gut instinct and act on it!

By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not ok, you can follow the below conversation steps to show them they’re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are ok, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask. 

 

GETTING READY TO ASK

 

Before you can look out for others, you need to look out for yourself. And that’s ok. If you're not in the right headspace or you don't think you're the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them.

To help you decide whether you’re ready to start a meaningful conversation, ask yourself:

 

AM I READY?

  • Am I in a good headspace? 
  • Am I willing to genuinely listen? 
  • Can I give as much time as needed?
 

AM I PREPARED?

  • Do I understand that if I ask how someone’s going, the answer could be: “No, I’m not”?
  • Do I understand that you can’t ‘fix’ someone’s problems?
  • Do I accept that they might not be ready to talk? Or they might not want to talk to me?  
 

PICKED MY MOMENT?

  • Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfy? 
  • Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to chat? 
  • Have I made sure I have enough time to chat properly?

1. ASK R U OK?

  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach. 
  • Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"  
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?" 

IF THEY PUSH BACK

  • If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them. 
  • Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them. 
  • Avoid a confrontation. 
  • You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?” 

2. LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT

  • Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  • Encourage them to explain: "How are you feeling about that?" or "How long have you felt that way?"
  • Show that you've listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly. 

3. ENCOURAGE ACTION

  • Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • Ask: “How would you like me to support you?"
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
  • You could say: "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too."
  • If they've been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times. 

IF YOU NEED EXPERT HELP

Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than 2 weeks - or is at risk - please contact a professional as soon as you can.

FIND EXPERT HELP >>

 

4. CHECK IN

  • Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted."
  • Ask if they've found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference. 

Remember that all it takes is a conversation using the above four steps which could ultimately change a life!

Always remember that even showing that you genuinely care and concern about someone can make a real difference to them and their life.

Defence employees can access the Mental Health Portal through the Defence Protected Network.

Important numbers and links:

 

Lifeline  - 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467

Men's Line - 1300 78 99 78

QLife - 1800 184 527

Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800

Emergency & Mental Health Contacts

EAP Contacts

HR Services Team

Reserve Assistance Program (RAP)

SeMPRO - 24/7 confidential service

SeMPRO

  • 1800SeMPRO (1800 736 776)
  • +612 6127 1759 (outside Aust)
  • Text: 0429 600 800 (+61 429 600 800 - outside Australia) 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Original source: https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask and Department of Defence.


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