Steps to effective communication when someone is struggling

Yesterday saw me deliver the second virtual session with 19 members of ISS including all levels of staff.  Learning from each other we explored, how to start a conversation when we’ve seen a change in someone.  This of course takes planning.  When’s the right time, the best location to avoid interruptions, what language should we use, our tone, what empathetic words work best.  What happens if someone doesn’t want to talk? Or if the subject is something painful/against our beliefs/cultural backgrounds?  How can we ensure the person feels validated and supported even though we aren’t the right person?


How do we listen and why is it essential to reflect back on what we’ve heard?  Giving reassurance that emotions are very real to them and natural in the circumstances they are in without giving advice or trying to ‘fix’ them.


Encouraging professional help is a key step.  Sometimes mental poor health is cause by physical issues.  Our mind, body and spirit work so closely together it’s not always easy for professionals to diagnose the real issue.  In Afro Caribbean people they can exhibit signs of depression when in fact they have a Vitamin D deficiency.  So a professional check is always a key step.


Waiting for appointments can be agonising.  Therefore, self care techniques can help manage what the person is feeling whilst they are waiting.  Guiding them to use mediums that usually calm them or indeed trying something new is pivotal to self-care.  Talking of self-care, anyone listening to someone who is in pain emotionally, needs to practise self-care themselves after.  You cannot pour from an empty cup!


We also looked at building a self care plan into our daily routines to enable us to become more resilient in dealing with life’s challenges.


So what did the guys think of the session yesterday?…

“The sessions make you think about things in a totally different way and give you the knowledge on how to approach different scenarios or difficult subjects.  I always look forward to Janes sessions. They are always professionally delivered and interactive which makes them enjoyable as well as very informative.” Mark Hetherington, PwC National Contracts Manager, London

“In an informal setting it gives you a good understanding on what/ how to respond to staff. I’d definitely recommend it to others.” Alison, Birmingham

“I learnt so much from today’s session.  I feel more prepared for dealing with possible vulnerable team members and I know when to stop and understand when something/a situation is beyond me but I know the next steps.  Thanks Jane” Loraine, Belfast

“The steps to thinking about when making an approach was really good, very simple and easy to follow and I now feel a lot more confident if faced with this.” Rakesh

Virtual sessions enable teams split across the UK to collaborate together.  I think this new way of working is here to stay!




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