How To Ask A Friend If They Are OK When They Are Not
“Hi, how are you doing?”
That’s how we begin most of our casual conversations, is it not? And most of the time, we get the same response,
“I’m fine, thanks for asking. How are you?”
Do you ever get tired of this monotonous conversation starter? Because, let’s be honest, no matter what the situation is, hearing, “I’m fine” all the time becomes exhausting. And so does saying the same thing over and over again.
When someone asks you how you are doing, it’s highly unlikely that you will respond with anything but the truth. Because how can one phrase that they are not okay? How does one tell their friend that they are slowly drowning in their anxiety? Or that they feel out of control? Without saying much, let’s say that you see your friend, your loved one, struggling. Maybe you’ve noticed an appetite change or you’ve noticed that they have become more withdrawn. How do you ask someone if they are ok? How do you ditch the “I’m fine” response and talk about the truth?
In this blog, I’ve compiled a few tips to help you begin a candid conversation with someone you know is struggling…
Asking Someone If They Are Ok
Here’s how you can ask your friend if they are okay…
1. It’s All About The Timing
There’s always a time and place for sensitive conversations. If you’re asking someone if they are ok, prepare a plan. Switch off your devices, brew a nice cup of tea, or pick a private place where your friend can share their worries with you. If you can’t be physically present for them, you can check in with them virtually.
However, pick a time when they can talk without interruptions such as work or other commitments. If you’re meeting physically, then pick a location with fewer distractions and less crowd.
2. Prepare Yourself
You’re concerned about your friend and want to help them but are you ready to listen? Are you in the right mindset to listen to others’ worries and fear? For example, you are not ready to help your friend if you’re ‘hangry’ or if you’re emotionally exhausted.
Like I said, timing matters. So when you are ready to listen to their mind, only then reach out to them. Be ready for when they say they are not fine. Prepare yourself for when they say they are not ready to talk.
3. Ask Questions, Be Honest
When asking someone if they are ok, your body language should be relaxed, open, and non=threatening. Open with the usual starter but if they don’t open up, you can let them know that you’re concerned about their well-being.
Just letting them know that you’re there for them and that someone cares can be enough to let them know that they are not alone in their difficult journey. Admitting that you’re not okay can be hard so if your loved one doesn’t respond to your question the first time, ask again.
4. Listen To Them Without Interruptions
Listening here is the keyword. Sometimes all one needs is to vent out their feelings, worries, and fears. Not everything has a solution or a fix. Sometimes all you can do for someone is to be there and listen as they pour out their heart.
You may not always have the answers so don’t give one. Don’t just hear, listen to what they say. Encourage them to talk by asking questions such as, “How are you feeling about this?” or “What makes you say that?”. Stay quiet and listen. Don’t force them to talk or rush them. Take the conversation at their pace.
5. Respond Carefully
When you have nothing helpful to say, keep silent. Sometimes, a person only wants to vocally express their feelings and vent out. When they are not looking for answers and advice, it’s always better to not give one.
Remember, this conversation is not about you, it’s about them. Share your stories but don’t make it about you. Listen and then respond. Give advice when asked. If you can’t help but respond then avoid being condescending or saying anything demeaning.
6. Share Your Story
Many times I’ve refrained from saying the truth about my health, my mental state out of fear that no one will understand me or what I’m going through. That’s not true, though. It took me opening up to a friend that I realized I was not alone in my struggles.
Every one of us struggles with a tough situation now and then. Sharing your experiences, your stories with a loved one can help them open up about theirs.
7. Check-In With Them
After your heartfelt talk, set a reminder to check in with them and to stay in touch with them. Make it a habit to chat with them over lunch once a week or have a call with them every Wednesday evening.
The point is to let them know that you’re there for them and that you care. Trust your instincts. If you know your friend is struggling, reach out to them. Let them feel your concern but don’t overwhelm them either.
8. Offer Them Help
It’s not always about what you say, it’s about what you do. Action speaks louder than words, so if your friend is struggling with something, instead of saying comforting words, offer them some practical help. If they’re not eating healthy, offer to cook for them. If they are facing burnout, take them out for a relaxing outing.
If what you offer doesn’t help, ask them if they will benefit from talking to a professional. Help them find a therapist if that’s what they need. Sometimes what we can’t do, a professional can.
You can connect with trained and licensed professionals on BetterHelp by clicking the link below.
You can also connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. We’re always here to help you. You can also share your feelings and thoughts in the comments below!
You are not alone. All you need to do is ask for help!
Lots of love to you. Take care!