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How is “R U OK?” the right question to ask?

RUOK? the Day started in 2009. The day encourages Australians to connect with people who have emotional insecurity, to address social isolation and promote community cohesiveness.

Although well-intended, some of it doesn’t sit well with me.

Asking good coaching questions (1) underpins Mental Health recovery programs and (2) invokes experiential and generative learning in executive coaching.

Questions are a means of exploration and building rapport. If you are genuinely curious, the people you ask questions to will feel valued and listened to. This in turn builds trust.

“Are you OK?” is a actually CLOSED question as the coaching industry defines it. A closed question has binary or one-word answer. In this case Yes or No. A closed question doesn't allow the respondent the space to think, so it has the potential to prematurely end a conversation.

So most people uncomfortably answer YES to avoid the next question.

Nobody in the history of the word calmed down after being told to calm down.

Many Mental Health providers spend significant time preparing their clients on how to cope with RUOK? Day.

I am certain people with mental illness go into hiding for 24 hrs to avoid it.

The better coaching approach is to not ask a question from the outset. Make an observation instead that shows you are caring. "I notice you haven't quite been yourself lately. How is everything with you?".

Brace yourself. Much of RUOK? Day has been hijacked by the virtue signallers - social media “influencers” and advertisers - expressing moral values with the intent to enhance self-image and a bias towards making the asker feel better.

Mental Health First Aid courses help you ask the right question all year round.

For more information on these visit Mental Health First Aid Australia:

Stay safe and keep an eye out for your mates.

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