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Are we really all ‘in the same boat’?

Posted on 18/05/2020 by Tracey George MIRP

Boat drawing

I don’t know about you, but I have not only heard that expression numerous times over the past few weeks, I have used it myself one too many times.  It is true though, isn’t it?  We are all in the same boat?

The thing is, as humans there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone in a crisis or that others too are facing the same challenges we are, whether that be professionally or personally. I have been thinking about this and what has become more and more apparent over recent weeks is in fact how differently we are all experiencing this situation.  I have heard people say that this lock-down experience has brought their families closer together for example and others reporting that business for them is booming.  Then on the complete opposite spectrum there are people so stressed by juggling the combination of home, work and school life, or those on furlough uncertain about when they might go back to work and in much more extreme situations, people faced with trying to establish where their next meal might come from or worse, grieving a lost relative. 

Is the truth then not that we are probably all in the same ocean but not in the same boat?  I liken it to some people being on luxury cruise liners, whilst others are clinging onto a sinking raft. 

I am sure I am not alone in my reflections on this but with it being mental health awareness week I thought it was a good time to highlight a few points that we could all consider ‘taking on board’ (excuse the pun) that might just help us support those around us in a more helpful and meaningful way. 

Show Genuine Empathy – if ever we needed to draw on our ability to empathise, it is now.  Try to see things from someone else’s point of view, stop and think about how they might be feeling.  It sounds easy and most people think they are empathetic, but it is fact something that is hard to do, particularly when you are faced with adversity or difficulties of your own.

Listen Actively – this shows the listener that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and that you care.  It is proven that active listening deepens and strengthens relationships, and this is particularly important for managers and leaders of organisations today, you need to have trusted and open relationships with your employees whilst navigating a crisis. 

Don’t Make Assumptions – don’t assume things about people and their situation or even worse, make assumptions about how they are experiencing the new world we are living in.  Everyone has context to their lives that we will not be fully aware of and this is what will be shaping their reactions and decisions.  When we make assumptions we are more likely to judge others and this is not a time for people to feel judged.  Everyone is trying to do the best they can.

I hope that these three simple points will help us continue to pull together, support one another and lend an ear, whilst waving to each other from our various vessels as we pass one another floating in the ocean that I call Covid-19 (Image - courtesy of my 8 year old daughter, Ivy).

If you would like to talk to me about my experience of doing the Mental Health First Aid course which inspired me to implement a simple effective, low cost mental health awareness strategy into our workplace, feel free to contact me on tracey.george@tpp.co.uk.

You can also find further information and resources available to support mental health and wellbeing on our website.