The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Clarifying Your Script For Answering Caring Enquiries During Difficult Times

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Have you ever been through a crisis when people enquired about how things were going? How did you deal with the questions?

Sometimes talking with people can be helpful. But sometimes it can mean going through an emotional roller coaster.

This article explores some ways you can deal with caring enquiries when going through difficult times.

Caring Enquiries

“My partner is ill, which is difficult in itself,” said one person.

“But one of the hardest parts is answering questions about their illness.

“People ring up and, though they are well meaning, it takes ages to answer their questions. I don’t want to be rude, but it can be very exhausting.

“The phone calls start with them expressing sympathy. But sometimes the roles get reversed and I end up giving them therapy.”

Can you recall a time when this has happened for you? You may have suffered a bereavement, lost a job, experienced an illness or whatever.

Part of you wanted to be open with people, but it was tiring repeating details. Certainly you may want to talk about the issues with kindred spirits, but other enquiries may be more invasive.

How to deal with such conversations? One approach is to tell people you don’t want to talk about it.

Another approach to create a script you can follow. You stick to giving certain key messages to people. This is to be polite, but also manage your energy.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you seemed to follow to script – you gave people certain key messages – to deal with caring enquiries during a difficult time.

Describe the specific key messages that you gave to people in that situation.

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There are many ways to deal with enquiries. Let’s explore the approach of crafting a script.

Clarifying your script for answering
enquiries during a difficult time

This was the route taken by the person mentioned above. Looking ahead, they began crafting their script by doing the following exercise.

The three key messages I want to give
people when they ask about the situation are:

*

*

*

Such scripts often contain the following elements. They start by thanking the person for asking. They then cover the following ground.

They give a factual update regarding what is happening.

They may describe how the experience is helping them to see what is important in life or is bringing people together.

They stay in charge of the conversation and close the topic by saying: “I will let you know if there are any changes. How are you?”

The person mentioned above covered these themes in the script they crafted. They wrote down the key messages and followed these when answering the phone or having conversations with people who asked about the situation.

Here are the main messages they gave.

Thank you for asking.

X (my partner) has decided to embark on a course of treatment. The stats say the chances of success are fairly high, but you never know with these things.

We are finding that, in some ways, it is making us stronger. We are appreciating the simple things in life and plan to go on several special trips.

The course is x months long and we will let you know of any further developments. How are you?

Some months later the person reported that doing this exercise enabled them to deal with caring enquiries. It also helped them to focus on what they really valued in life. They said:

“Having a script meant my partner and I did not have to rethink every time somebody phoned. We just returned to the themes.

“Putting it together also helped to clarify our philosophy for dealing with the illness. We revisited our priorities and spent time enjoying our relationship.

“Sometimes we elaborated on the script with different people. The key thing it did, however, was to provide a compass we could return to during conversations.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to use a script to deal with caring enquiries.

Describe the specific key messages you may want to give to people in that situation.

Certainly it may be difficult to predict the actual situation, but it can be useful to craft your script for dealing with different scenarios.

You can then manage your energy properly and use your strength to deal with the particular challenge.

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