As we become more aware of the struggles we face with depression and mental health as individuals, families, communities businesses and society we are encouraged to "check in more:" with our loved ones, friends, colleagues acquaintances.
But how do you do that, and how do you vary that so it doesn't become a rote expression?
You (to colleague), "hey how are you?"
As a coach I was taught the question "on a scale of 1-10 where are you with <insert topic here>?" and it's useful helping get a sense of where the person is at and allowing me to ask "so you're a 5, hmm, what makes you a 5 and not a 4?" That might seem a bit clunky in conversation - but it opens the discussing to go deeper so you can check in on the state of the person you're speaking with. It forces reflection and the chance for a richer dialog.
How’s your heart?
is a wonderful question that goes so much deeper into how the person you are speaking with is feeling and what they are experiencing
On a scale of 3 to 18, how are you?*
this is a variation on the 1-10 but what it does is it creates a dissonance in the mind of the person answering, forcing them to break out of their normal response and think about what their answer is. Or you can combine them - on a scale of 3-18 how's your heart?
Sweet and sour check in
In groups I like to do this one (don't search for it, you'll get a lot of recipes and restaurant listings). Each person takes a turn to share a "sweet" thing in their life - something they are proud of or grateful for and one "sour" thing i.e. a personal or professional struggle
Check ins work best when you *listen* to the answer
One last thing, the best questions in the world count for nothing if you are not listening
Listen to the words they are using and respond appropriately
Listen for tell tales where the word choices and body language don't match, if you notice it, ask about it
Listen for pauses or hesitation, what do they tell you?
*3 is low and 18 is high