Treat people beautifully. That is at the cornerstone of my people and culture philosophy. Treating people beautifully also means treating yourself beautifully. And so today, before you ask if someone else is doing OK, take a minute to pause and ensure you are OK to have that kind of conversation. You will be doing yourself and the person you plan to approach a disservice if you initiate a conversation you are not ready to undertake.
Once you’ve checked in with yourself, take the time to think about how you will approach your co-worker. Here are my top tips for approaching co-workers. They are in-line with the approach promoted by R U OK?
1. Choose the right time to ask
Don’t saunter up to someone’s desk and ask, R U OK? Try asking the person if they have 20 minutes to go for a walk or grab a coffee with you, and ask during that conversation.
2. Keep it simple
When ready to broach the topic, your approach can be as simple as asking, “Are you okay….I have noticed you have been a little quiet the last week or so?”.
3. Listen and don’t judge
It is so important to actually listen to what is being said and make no judgements about what may be confided.
4. Don’t rush to offer solutions
Don’t rush to offer solutions, everyone’s situation is different and what may seem like the perfect solution for you, may be the complete opposite for another person.
5. Ask, “How can I help?”
A much better approach is to listen and then ask, “how can I help?”.
6. Encourage action
If your co-worker is not feeling okay, encourage positive action like speaking to a professional. If work is the cause of a co-workers concern, encourage them to initiate a conversation with their leaders or their people and culture or HR officer. If your employer offers an employee assistance program, make sure you remind them to use it.
7. Check in
These conversations should not be a one-off affair. Follow up with your friend in the coming days and weeks. It shows you care and continues the conversation.
8. Be prepared for denial
What do you do if the person is in denial? You can’t push someone into opening up, so if this occurs let them know that you are always around to talk if they need a listening ear. Also, some people might not feel comfortable opening up in the workplace, which is understandable. Keep this in mind and if you encounter resistance, suggest your co-worker speak to a family member or close friend.