Speaking to a distressed friend

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Where in a conversation, or the location where you ask the question can also make a difference.

It is best not to question someone on a potentially sensitive and personal topic in

  • a public forum (tute, work group etc)
  • in a place where neither of you are able to relax and listen (e.g. in a lift, rushing to a class)
  • where your friend might feel it is not safe or confidential
Context Question  Response
You’ve just complained that your colleague hasn’t done the group work that was assigned to them. You do this in front of the group. Is everything ok and what is going on?! I’m fine. I’ve been really busy!

A better context would be

You talk to your colleague over coffee away from the group You seem like you are struggling a bit with the workload. Is everything ok at the moment? I might be able to help if you want to talk about it.  My father has just walked out on us. I have to manage younger siblings, feed them and help them with their homework while Mum is at work in the evenings. Then Mum comes home and she is devastated by Dad leaving and needs someone to talk to. I’m exhausted and no-one is thinking how I feel.