What should you tell people about yourself

Talk to each other - how do I find the right words?

What was the first thing you noticed? Has your partner, friend or family member withdrawn? Did the contact decrease and you had the feeling that you couldn't get to her anymore? Maybe you noticed that she was different, changed in some way, or sad? Mental stress often comes insidiously. Sadness, powerlessness or anger increase and begin to determine everyday life. Then it is time for us to pay attention and talk about these changes.

But how do I start such a conversation? What if the other person doesn't want to talk about it at all? Or am I saying something wrong?

If you're asking yourself these questions, you've come to the right place. Together we want to understand what makes “talking about it” easier and how we can talk about mental health problems.

How do I find the right mindset?

You have noticed changes in someone that are worrying you - and what happens? You want to help them, preferably immediately! You need to find out what is going on in the other, want to work with him or her to get rid of problems in order to see your loved one laugh again. We all quickly fall into this "Rescue mode”. We find it incredibly difficult to endure unpleasant feelings. This often leads us to rush to open the conversation and give well-intentioned advice:

"Maybe a healthy diet will help you?"
"You have to go out more!"
"Sign up for the dance class!"

You guessed it: advice like this usually doesn't get through. So that you do not automatically lapse into rescue mode, create yourself before the conversation the right mindset. Just think about it:

Why are you addressing the changes that you have noticed in the person?
What is actually the aim of the conversation?

For one, you may want to learn how serious or profound the mood change is. For this, your counterpart must be able to open up to you. Fewer words on your part are therefore more - we'll come to that later. On the other hand, you basically want to express: You are important to me! I am there for you and you can trust me. Caution: Make sure to include in your mindset that you cannot force the person to talk.

The following keywords can help you maintain your mindset before and during the conversation:

Openness - respect - trust

How do I start a conversation?

The mindset is set, but what now? The first words are probably the hardest for you, because depending on how the other person reacts to them, it will decide whether a conversation will even take place. Before you ask the first question, try good conditions to create for the conversation. It means that

  • you are as undisturbed as possible
  • there is enough time
  • it is a suitable place, e.g. during a walk

Don't let the fear of making a mistake paralyze you, instead you can just speak up, what you noticed. Also allow the possibility that this may only be your perception:

“Maybe it's just me, but I have the feeling that something has been bothering you lately. Is that correct?"
"You seem irritable / sad / stressed a lot lately, would you like to tell me what's going on?"
“I heard what happened. Do you like to talk about it? "

If all of this sounds too "therapeutic" to you, you can also stalk up and simply ask:

"How have you been lately?"
"How are you, really?"

What do I look for in the conversation?

Remember your mindset: You want your interlocutor to open up to you and he or she cannot do that if you take up too much space in the conversation. This is usually difficult for us because we want to help and often assume that we already know how the other is feeling and what he or she could do about it. Realize that your assumptions about the other person's inner world are most likely wrong. You want to learn something from her, so the motto is: Speech is silver, silence is gold. Of course, you can ask questions if you have not understood something, want to find out more about it or want to signal to the other person that you are listening carefully.

“I would like to understand that more precisely. Can you explain it to me?"
“I wasn't even aware of that. How long have you been feeling like this? "
"That sounds very important, can you tell me more about it?"

The above sentences may seem a bit empty or empty. This is because they do not contain the rating we are used to. Most of the time, when you ask people what is most important about listening, they'll answer: having someone to listen to the situation, without judging.

But how do you do that concretely? Here's a very simple but powerful strategy: try to focus fully on what the person is saying. You don't have to draw parallels with your own life, share similar experiences, and think about what to say next at the same time. In the vast majority of cases, this is the best way to listen - there may be room for anything else in further conversation.

Often pops up while listening compassion on. This compassion can deepen the bond between you and the person you are speaking to. Depending on the relationship you have with the other person, you can do it spontaneously physically express, for example, by taking the person's hand, hugging them, or looking genuinely in the eyes. Make sure, however, that this is not too much for the narrator. You can tell when he or she avoids your gaze, for example. You can also find words to express your compassion, for example:

"I can well understand that you feel that way."
"That must be incredibly difficult right now."
"I can understand that, I would feel the same way."

What to do if the conversation gets stuck?

Especially when you are talking about serious topics, it is quite normal that the other person does not chat like a waterfall. Therefore, do not panic if the flow of conversation dies down. If you find the silence uncomfortable, you can Ask a Question and see if you can pick up the thread again.

"How are you doing with that?"
"How was that for you?"
"Can you say what would be good for you right now?"

When you think a good start has been made and the pause suggests that it would be better to start the conversation at another time to continue, you can make an offer for it. Many people who are particularly bad mentally find it difficult to formulate what they need on their own. Sometimes it helps to make suggestions or to let the person decide between two alternatives.

"Should I call you on Sunday or can I come over?"
"We could go for another walk in the park next week or would you prefer to go to the café?"

If you have the feeling that the person you are talking to is feeling uncomfortable, doesn't want to tell you any more, or the time is simply not ripe for it, it can be difficult for you to endure. Most of all you would like to “re-drill”. Unfortunately, it is hopeless to proceed with pressure in these cases and in the worst case you will block the chance that you will get into conversation another time. Bring instead Gratitude, acceptance and your willingness to be patient to expression.

"Thank you for letting me ask you that and I understand if you don't want to talk about it right now."
“What a shame, I would have liked to know what is bothering you. Feel free to contact me if you want to tell me.
"I'm always there for you."

But it is not only important to respect the boundaries of the person you are talking to. Also watch out for your own limits! If you feel overwhelmed with the other person's problems and therefore don't even know what to say, it is not a failure. The best way to support the other is by thinking together how things could go on.

“Unfortunately, I don't know enough about that. What do you think we should look for support together? "
"Who could we ask who knows more about it?"

When it comes to mental illness, in particular, it is important to seek professional help. You are not expected to be fully aware of the problems or what to do. There are professionals for this and their help can and should be taken advantage of.

How do I end a conversation?

Thank you for the trust the person you are talking to. It doesn't go without saying that a person should open up and expressing that appreciation makes you both feel good. Even if the person has indicated that they don't want to talk about their problem yet, that's an honest answer that can strengthen a relationship.

"I'm glad you were so open with me."
"Thank you for placing your trust in me."
"I think it's good that you were honest."

If you have a good feeling, feel free to make an offer for another interview.

"If you like, let's talk again soon."
"I would be happy if you would keep me up to date."

No matter how your conversation goes, you should always keep this in mind:

Feeling understood and seen is a healing experience.
Simply showing a willingness to understand the other person's feelings, thoughts, and motives better can have positive effects.

Top 5 key takeaways for interviewing

  1. Mindset is everything: openness, respect, trust
  2. Talk about what YOU perceive
  3. Silence is golden
  4. Be mindful of your own limits and those of the other
  5. Make alternative / further offers