Get the Conversation Started

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How do you push back the canned answers and really find out how your friends are doing? Athena Diesch-Chham said it starts with asking the right questions. When people respond with “I’m fine,” she said her favorite reply to get people talking is: “Let’s try it again. How are you really doing?”

Canned responses like “I’m fine” or “OK” typically move people past the “How are you doing” question onto more small-town chit-chat and/or legitimate conversation.

“Most of us don’t wait or push for a real response,” she said. “We need to be able to be comfortable pushing a little bit more because if we ask the right questions, we can get real answers.”

Diesch-Chham suggests these seven ways to get people talking.

1. I hear you saying (repeat back concerns they had).

2. This sounds like a lot to manage, how are you coping with all of that?

3. It sounds like the current situation is very difficult. What can I do to support you?

4. These are some tough challenges. How can I help?

5. Would it be helpful to work together on an action plan to manage these concerns?

6. Every situation is different, but ___ tried ____with a similar situation. What do you think about that?

7. Are there any people who have been supportive or helpful in the past when times have been rough? Would be helpful to reach out to them now?

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