Hi there, I have been asked to write a wee ‘lockdown’ blog and I’m happy to give it a go, albeit writing a blog is not something I have attempted before, so I trust there will, in due course, actually be someone out there who is not only reading this (one’s first objective should always be ‘a low-hanging fruit’, as they say in business) but who will find it worthwhile, helpful and/or enjoyable.
As someone who happily inhabits the introvert end of the personality spectrum, lockdown is unsurprisingly proving to be more comfortable and manageable for me than for most of us. Whether we subscribe to the gospel according to Myers Briggs, or we utilise the Bradford and Bradford personality framework, or prefer the Colours approach, the results consistently tell me that I am not one of life’s natural socialisers.
That said, I do enjoy (to an extent) the opportunities which technology presents us with to join group chats and find out how friends and family are coping with this extended period of self-isolation. And that’s where I need to really ‘up my game’, so to speak, particularly during these times of heightened stress for many.
Too often do I (and I am sure I am not alone in this sin of omission and/or superficiality) content myself with asking typically blokish questions, such as “How are you?”, “Y’awright?” or “How’s it gaun?”, questions which too easily lend themselves to stock answers, such as “good, thanks”, “no’ bad” or “aye, awright” but which do little to encourage a more honest, fuller sharing of one’s personal situation, without which it is that much harder to then go deeper in that conversation and actually support the person if they need reassurance, comfort or, perhaps even, some practical advice.
It was therefore really helpful to receive an email at work this week from a clearly more enlightened colleague than myself, where he shared some suggested ‘better questions’ and I feel it would be helpful to us all if I now share these here, even if only so that you can keep tabs on whether I am following my own advice the next time we meet, virtually or otherwise.
The suggested questions, from which we should perhaps select a handful which feel natural enough for us to adopt in everyday interactions, without it sounding like we are reading from a script (therefore, please feel free to paraphrase the questions to match your own style of speaking) were:
- What is the easiest part about the lockdown?
- What are some things you have realised that you don’t really need?
- What is something that you miss which surprises you?
- What is giving you hope right now?
- How are you taking care of yourself today?
- What habits have you started or broken during the lockdown?
- What part of where you are staying have you come to appreciate the most?
- What surprising thing have you been stocking up on?
- Which place are you most looking forward to visiting when all this is over?
- Which member of your family/friend group have you been thinking about the most during this time? Why?
- How do you want this experience to change you? How do you think it will?
- What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?
Adopting this more expansive approach to enquiring after someone’s well-being will undoubtedly mean we end up spending much more time catching up with, as well as becoming more emotionally invested in, each other – but that, for me, would be a really positive outcome from this current situation. And if it means that I find myself retreating from my current extreme position of introversion towards a more sociable and relaxed interactor, then that’s probably a good thing too.