This R U OK Day, who will you be checking in on?

Gmf Website Blog (2)

Today is R U OK? Day

A day dedicated to harm prevention that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives.

The day is all about building the motivation, confidence and skills of the help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.

For managers and leaders, they can fall into the trap of focusing on work related tasks, KPI’s and bottom lines to distract themselves from personal issues that are negatively impacting their life.

Many people still have that old school train of thought that staff should leave their personal issues at home, which isn’t healthy.

In reality, employees are the same people at home or at work. If your colleagues are struggling, that struggle travels with them no matter where they go.

It’s a Tricky Chat

I understand that asking a colleague “R U OK?” sounds simpler than it often is.

And this then impacts a person’s confidence to reach out to a colleague. They may think…

“What if they feel uncomfortable about me asking?”

“What if they’re really struggling and I have no idea how to help?”

There was a great piece in The Atlantic written by a high school teacher named Paul Barnwell.

He gave his kids a communication project, wanting to teach them how to speak on a specific subject without using notes.

And he said this: ” I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach.”

Here’s a scaffold to help you

Here are a few things to keep in mind to help make the R U OK conversations a little easier:

1)  Ask from a place of empathy – you don’t need to try and solve their problem

“I just wanted to check in on you because I’ve noticed you seem different lately. Is everything okay?’

2)  Listen

Therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself.

And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener.

Stephen Covey said it perfectly when he said, “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.”

3)  Encourage them to take action

Even the smallest step can be the first step in someone getting the help they need. This could be encouraging them to talk to their GP, call Lifeline, share how they’re feeling with a trusted loved one.

So this R U OK Day, who will you be checking in on?

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