10 Things To Do Before You Ask, ‘Are You Okay?’

Offering support to someone is important. However, here are some things you must be mindful of before asking someone if they are okay.

Asking your loved ones, and family members, if they are okay can be tricky. Most of the time, you will hear them saying they are okay regardless of what they are going through. In such situations, supporting them gets difficult even though you know something is wrong.

Luckily, by keeping certain things in mind, you can communicate with them and help them. But what are these things, and how to subtly ask someone if they are okay?

This is what we are going to talk about in this post.

Tips to start a conversation and ask if they are okay

 When you sense something is going on with your friend or family member, you ask them if everything is fine, and they say yes, what do you do?

Do you leave them be or try to be there for them? If you fall under the latter category, here are the tips that will help the conversation go when you ask if the other person is okay.

The first thing you need is to look for signs of distress. After that, to start a conversation, find a perfect location and timing, see if they are in the mood to talk or not, listen to them, ask subtly if they are okay, discuss the issues without being judgmental or controlling, offer help and do whatever you can to make them feel comfortable and heard.

Questions to ask yourself first

However, before delving deep, you need first to ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to listen to them?
  • Can you give them the time they need?
  • Can you help them if they say they are not okay?
  • Will you accept the fact that they are not ready to talk?
  • Can you accept that you might not have a solution?

When you have a clear answer to these questions, you are ready to help the other person. So let’s understand how you can ask someone if they are okay and be there for them.

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Conversation is key

Only some people open up quickly. Sometimes, it takes a lot of effort. To encourage someone to open up, you can start by validating their feelings and being compassionate.

Also, instead of asking a straightforward question, try rephrasing it and ask, “It seems something is bothering you?” or “It seems you are struggling with something; Is there anything I can do to help you? Please let me know.”

By asking this way, you can give them a window to speak and make them understand that you are there for them. Alongside, you can keep the following tips in mind:

1. Look for distress signs

When you know that your friend has just been through a breakup, has lost a loved one, wasn’t able to clear exams, or is struggling with a chronic illness, you know they are not okay, and they know about it. In such cases, they open up quickly.

However, if it’s just the opposite and there are no tell-tale signs, in that case, you need to keep an eye out to notice the signs of distress.

The common signs can be –

  • Change in the way they talk, act, and react
  • The way they dress up
  • Their energy levels
  • They get easily frustrated and irritated
  • They are always tired and don’t like talking to anyone

When you notice these signs or sense anything unusual, check in with your friend and communicate.

2. Avoid assuming things

When you want a genuine answer to the question, are you okay? Start the conversation with empathy. Most people feel shy to open up; they fear sharing their problems as it might make them look vulnerable. Hence, they don’t talk.

However, they feel free to share their feelings when they sense that the other person understands them. Therefore, when approaching them, be clear-minded, don’t assume things, and start giving suggestions. Doing so might push them away and make them shut down.

So, instead of trying to be a guide and a philosopher, just be a friend. Respect their boundaries and be an active listener.

3. Follow-up

You are lucky enough if you get the answer for whether you are okay in the first go. Don’t waste it, and keep following up. When a person opens up, it is best to keep checking on them.

Doing so weekly or on alternate days will assure them you are there and they can lean on you for support.  However, if things are not improving, you can encourage them to seek professional help and counseling.

4. Ask twice

Answering the question, honestly, are you okay is not easy. It’s a tough choice that people don’t make so easily. Therefore, when you suspect that a friend, family member, or someone you know is struggling with something, there is no harm in asking twice. When you do so, it makes a difference. The other person feels valued, and they understand you care about them and are willing to listen to them.

5. Find a perfect time and place

If you think being a friend or family member gives you the liberty to ask if they are okay, anytime and anywhere, you are wrong. If you are going to ask casually, you will get the answer likewise. To create a ground and boost them to open up, find a perfect time and a place.

Once you see that they are free and willing to talk, ask if they’re okay. When they are not distracted, and no one is around, they get the courage to open up, and they know you respect their privacy. This will make them open up to you.

6. Ensure you have time and you are ready

It takes a lot of courage to share secrets with someone and to express feelings. So, before you decide to check up on someone, ask yourself if you have the time and energy to listen to the other person. Are you in the right state of mind to have the conversation?

If you have to go somewhere or there might be disturbances that may break the conversation, do not initiate the conversation. First, make time for that person to be there because it will hurt them when you ask someone to open up but are unavailable. Be present in the conversation so they can communicate with you easily without hesitation.

7. Listen patiently

At some point or the other, each one of us, in hopes of getting a solution, has discussed our problems. But haven’t found any. As some issues do not have an answer or a magic fix. Nothing anyone would say matters because it’s not what you seek.

So when you are there hearing someone out, never jump to conclusions or give suggestions unnecessarily. Sometimes the other person just needs someone to hear them. So listen patiently and carefully to what the other person wants to say.

8. Speak with compassion

A person needs a lot of courage to open up in front of the other person, so when they decide to pour their heart and feelings out in front of you, think twice before speaking. No one likes to be questioned, criticized, and judged. Stay transparent with your thoughts and do not impose your decisions.

Instead of giving them a solution, try suggesting some fixes based on your experience. Say to them you care for them and are always by their side. They can lean on you.

9. Offer help and support

It’s not always about what you say. It’s more about what you can do for the person. Therefore, when your friend is in a dark place, and you cannot find the right words, restrain yourself from saying anything that might come out as wrong.

If they are not eating, going out, or are overburdened with work, try to help them. You can bring them home-cooked food, help them with their work, and take them out with you. This will make them feel that somebody is there, and they might speak up.

10. Tell them you care

Telling someone that you are there for them might not seem important because you assume they know you are there for them. But sometimes, saying it out loud makes a lot of difference. Let them know you are there whenever you find that your loved one is distancing themselves from you and everyone else.

Whenever they need anyone, they can seek your support; they can talk to you. You will give them a safe space to talk. This will help them establish a comfortable and relaxed environment where they can say whatever they want.

Being there for someone feels good

Everyone has one of the other problems to deal with and hence is always searching for support. A person who can hear us without judgment and criticism is what we want. But finding such a person is impossible. If you want someone to express their feelings in form, you listen to them.

You can start with a regular casual conversation and then, going forward can ask them about their problem. Once they sense you care for them and are concerned, they will share things.

Start the conversation by being compassionate and empathetic towards the person. It feels good to be there for our loved ones and help them.

Image Source: Canva Pro

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About the Author

Swati Gupta

I am a mental health Enthusiast and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...

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