Let’s talk about R U OK? Day

Mental health is a huge focus, especially today being R U OK? Day. During Covid-19 we’ve heard the impact the pandemic is going to have on some people’s mental health in the long term.

COVID-19 has taken over all our lives and there aren’t many people who haven’t felt the impact of the new normal turning everything upside down. R U OK? Day reminds us to focus on connection and to make a concerted effort to check in with people around us, not just today but everyday. Reduce feelings of distress or loneliness simply by asking the question ‘are you okay?’

So, can asking a simple question really change a life?

According to SANE Australia: Are you okay?’ is not asked as often as you might think. For the person being asked, just hearing it can be a positive, memorable experience.

The power of a simple question can have a greater impact than you may expect. Not everyone who is asked responds at the time, and not everyone who asks pursues the conversation further.

R U OK? Day is about the intention, the kindness, concern and being there to truly hear, hold space and validate someone.

Sometimes people will respond with saying they are fine.  They may be and they may not be.  There are many reasons for this including feeling safe to open up without being judged, feeling confronted, put on the spot or not ready or not knowing what to say.  Or they may simply not realise how they feel.

Leaders and team members can often observe changes in behaviour and are unsure on the best way to approach it with the individual concerned.

Some common thinking and assumptions in this situation include:

  • They are doing their job, so I won’t pry into what’s none of my business
  • If something is wrong, they will tell me
  • It is affecting their work; I have to say something and what if I come across as a bully by correcting their work
  • What if by saying something, a can of worms gets opened I cannot deal with.
  • I am too uncomfortable with these types of conversations, if I leave it, it will go away.


We all can (and leaders especially can) engage in more effective and meaningful conversations to address behaviour changes while creating safety to talk by following a simple framework from Tasha Broomhall, author of A Mental Health Guide for Leaders.

A. Approach the person with sensitivity

  • Time: Be present, do not rush and choose an appropriate private time
  • Place: Have the conversation away from a central hub. Consider a space with more than one exit
  • Language: Respectful and non-judgemental, non labelling or blaming (e.g. You are being negative)

B. Don’t diagnose or therapise.

Your goal is to talk about observations and gain their feedback. Your observations may have nothing to do with what you have concluded, so it is important to build a shared understanding.

C. Do with, not to.

Your conversation is not talking at them, rather than with them by also coming to agreement about next steps.  Some individuals may not have spoken about any mental health concerns and there needs to be trust established for progress to begin.


Having the conversation Broomhall, recommends a 4 Step framework for an effective conversation.

1. Frame it.

2. “I’ve noticed…” (objective observable actions only, do not use label judgements such as you’ve been lazy, negative or aggressive)

3. “Have you noticed…”

4. Zip it (be quiet, be patient, create the space for them to respond, do not feel compelled to fill in a conversation void with more talking)


  • “Sam, this conversation has nothing to do with your work performance. I’ve been noticing a few things recently and I wanted to ask if you’re doing OK?”
  • “Sam, I’ve noticed you have been very quiet and not contributing as you normally do. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed this as well, and if there might be something behind it.”
  • “Sam, I want to discuss a few things I’ve observed lately related to your work performance. Before we discuss performance issues, I want to offer you any support if you need it. I have observed a few things lately and I’m wondering if you are OK? I noticed you are quieter and interacting less (provide specifics) – Have you noticed this too?”

What to do if someone replies they “are not ok”:

Acknowledge their response. You may not have expected their response and that’s fine. Validation is the key to responding well. Let them know you’ve heard them. Reply with “I’m sorry to hear you say that”. If you feel comfortable to do so ask the person “would you like to talk about it?” If it is not the right time or place to open up, suggest when you can get together to talk.

Listen. All too often we can find ourselves in “fix it” mode. When someone tells you, they are not OK it is natural to start offering solutions. Sometimes all the person wants is a friendly face to listen to them. Talking about problems eases the burden the person carries. Listen without judgement to make the person feel less alone and cared for.

Connect to professional support. If a person has shared they are not ok it’s important to ask if they are talking to anyone else, specifically professional support. If someone is in a vulnerable situation with their mental health, it is important they know what help is available to them.

Regardless of a person’s response to your question, let them know you are always available if they want to talk. It is worth repeating your support. By keeping the conversation going you will make it easier for them to connect and open up in the future.

So, this R U OK? Day, don’t worry about finding the right words. Don’t hesitate if you don’t know what you’ll say next. Break the silence. Ask the question. And know, no matter what the reply, you might have made the world of difference. People want to feel heard without being judged.

Finally, R U OK? Day is not a tick box exercise. Human beings need support and a feeling that they matter. Reach out beyond R U OK? day.

We offer Wellness Courses – organise a group course for your workplace today by calling 9218 9059 or emailing hello@ati-mirage.com.au

Posted by Wendy Wilson & Kathi Rogers | Learning & Development Consultant on 10 September 2020.

3 Strategies for dealing with difficult customers

There is a feeling of underlying stress at the moment. The continued impact of COVID-19, the economic forecast and levels of unemployment rising all playing a part in why some people behave the way they do.

For those of us in a customer service environment, it can be particularly challenging. Providing quality customer care is often what differentiates a business from its competitors. When you have an angry customer, your skills and patience are put to the test. So how do we continue to serve when we are dealing with difficult customers?

Difficult customers come in many varieties and they require slightly different approaches.


Here are our top 3 strategies for dealing with difficult customers.


Separate the person from the problem.

When someone is raising their voice or shouting at you, it’s easy to go with your primal instinct and shout back to defend your position. What if the customer has a valid reason to be so upset? Focus on the message the customer is sending you, rather than how they are sending it. Once you identify the problem assure the customer you’re going to do your best to resolve it..


Show empathy and reassure.

As a society, generally, we have all become very impatient. Life moves much quicker than it did 10-15 years ago, mainly thanks to technology. Anything we want is just a few clicks away. When a customer is demanding and wanting everything immediately it’s important to reassure them. Work as efficiently as possible, while reassuring them you are working on the best solution to fix the problem. Show empathy: ‘I can see you’re in a hurry and I’m working as quickly as I can to….’”


Establish rapport.

When a customer is being difficult find ways to build a rapport to calm the situation. Customers are less likely to heighten their negative emotion if they like you. Build rapport by showing your product knowledge, or experience in handling similar situations before. Listen to what the customer has to say and paraphrase the keywords they use. Show the customer you’re on their side and they are more likely to work with you to solve the problem.


Sometimes, it isn’t you, it’s them. There are some customers who are just never going to be happy. Keep in mind the quote by Shep Hyken “The customer is not always right, but they are the customer. So, if they are wrong, let them be wrong with dignity and respect.”  Customers are the core of any business, so do your best to solve the problem and be as proactive as you can

Enjoyed these tips?  We can help with tangible tools and support. Join us for our next workshops:


Dealing with Difficult Customer – and keeping your cool *

Customer Service Excellence *

Telephone Techniques *

Manage Stress, Build Resilience *

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence *

Developing Self Confidence & Assertiveness *

* Also available online as a live, facilitator-led virtual training course

Call us on 9218 9059 or email hello@ati-mirage.com.au