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You have the instinct and skill to look deeper. If you sense something is not quite right, chances are you are right. Don’t ignore your instinct. Start a conversation and listen without judgement.

Simple steps to talk to a colleague who is struggling.

Getting ready to ask

RUOK WEB TOONS 011. Be ready

RUOK WEB TOONS 02 2. Be prepared

RUOK WEB TOONS 033. Pick your moment

Starting a conversation

RUOK WEB TOONS 041. Ask R U OK?

RUOK WEB TOONS 042. Listen without judgement

RUOK WEB TOONS 053. Encourage action

RUOK WEB TOONS 074. Check in

Getting ready to ask

RUOK WEB TOONS 011. Be ready

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

RUOK WEB TOONS 02 2. Be prepared

  • Remember that you won’t have all the answers (which is ok)
  • Listening is one of the most important things you can do
  • If someone is talking about personal struggles this can be difficult and they might get emotional, embarrassed or upset

RUOK WEB TOONS 033. Pick your moment

  • Have you chosen somewhere relatively private and informal?
  • What time will be good for them to talk? Make sure you have allowed yourself enough time.
  • If they can’t talk when you approach them, ask them for a better time to come back

Starting a conversation

RUOK WEB TOONS 041. Ask R U OK?

  • Be relaxed
  • Help them open up by asking questions like “How are you going?” or or “I’ve noticed that you’re not quite yourself lately. How are you travelling?”
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”

RUOK WEB TOONS 062. Listen without judgement

  • Take what they say seriously
  • Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation
  • If they need time to think, try and sit patiently with the silence
  • Encourage them to explain
  • If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally
  • Let them know you’re asking because you’re concerned

RUOK WEB TOONS 053. Encourage action

  • Ask them: “Where do you think we can go from here?”
  • Ask: “What would be a good first step we can take?”
  • Ask: “What do you need from me? How can I help?”
  • Good options for action might include talking to family, a trusted friend, their doctor or Employee Assistance Provider

RUOK WEB TOONS 074. Check in

  • Remember to check in again in a few days to check in and see how the person is doing
  • Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation
  • If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them because they might just need someone to listen to them for the moment
  • You could ask, “Do you think it would be useful if we looked into finding some professional or other support?”
  • Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional
  • Try and remain optimistic about the benefits of getting help and try not to judge them.

For more information and tips ruok.org.au

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