Many of you will be experiencing some very challenging time mentally. Or be aware that perhaps a friend is going through a difficult time.
This episode was recorded for The Universal Man podcast in honour of one our fallen brothers. It is all about how to have a deeper conversation with a friend. Either for your benefit or theirs.
I’ve reposted here in its raw form. I know both men and women alike will get something from the wisdom of all the men who contributed.
Here is the original post https://www.universalman.org/having-a-deeper-conversation-with-a-mate/
How to Have a Deeper Conversation with a Mate
“This is an extra special podcast today in honour of one of our fallen brothers.
Ben, father of two, loving husband and best mate to Jimmy tragically took his own life a year ago. It was completely out of the blue. This horrible tragedy inspired us to present a podcast on just how you have a deeper conversation with your mates.
This is about those times when you just want to dig a little bit deeper, either for you or for them.
Most of us have mates that we catch up with, we watch the footy with, have a beer with. But this is really about how we take that step further in our friendship and get that dialogue beyond the surface and everyday topics when it is needed.
Sometimes you really do just want to have a beer and talk shit but other times you need a little more….and this is how to do that.
One of the things, you might be thinking about do I want to hear what a friend might have to say? When we think about these sorts of things, sometimes we can end up with some quite confronting stuff. So one of the most important things, while we’ve been discussing this topic, was the realisation that we’re not setting out on day one to fix the situation. Or to become a counsellor, this is about just starting a conversation with a friend, and the rest might come along a bit later.
It’s more about being present and listening, and putting away distractions with other parts of your life and just actually really seeing and witnessing a mate what they have to say, rather than actually have to solve the problem.
The Framework we talk through is as follows:
Energy– Make sure you are in the right head space for the convo
- Degree of self-awareness around current energy levels and own stuff
- Come gently and don’t push
- Don’t worry about being perfect
- Be fully present
Environment– is this the right setting for the convo
- They need to feel free and safe
- Be aware of timing
- We are hosting them
Initiate – Start the chat on the right foot
- This is a skill you get better at and might feel awkward to begin with
- Take a risk to reach out
- Trust your gut
You can start a chat one of two ways:
Behaviour– one way to start the conversation is make an observation about a particular behaviour your have seen that is perhaps a shift from their normal way of operating. This lets you focus on the behaviour not the person. E.g. “Hey mate, I noticed you’re not answering texts and calls as much as normal lately. Is everything ok?”
Make it Reciprocal – It can be helpful to open the conversation by sharing from your life that you’ve had or are having difficult with. Just tell a story. Don’t ask for any help. Most of the time a good bloke will share something back.
Start with something small and slowly go deeper if you feel it’s going there. E.g. “Hey mate, sorry if I’ve been a little quiet lately. I’ve been getting slammed at work and just can’t seem to get in front. And in truth it’s actually been making me more angry at home and costing me the gym so I’ve really needed to bunker down there and try and be my best. Just so you know..it’s bloody good to catch up though.”
Listen – Really listen to your mate
- Silence is OK, be prepared to wait
- Awareness of own stuff
- Don’t over complicate it and don’t make judgemnet
Acknowledge – Take a second to recognise their sharing
- Hand on shoulder or put an arm around a bloke
- Thank him for sharing and tell him everything is fine. It changes nothing. You’re hear for him through thick and thin.
- Acknowledge how hard that could be
Check – Check that you understand what has been said.
This might mean even repeating back to them in your own words what is going on. This makes them feel properly heard and also ensures you know what is really going on.
- Remember to be non-judgemental
- You’re not here to fix
- make sure you understand what they have shared
Enquire – Seek to understand in more depth without solving
Get them to explain the situation in more depth if you feel they are open to it. Sometimes they’re not. They just want to get it off their chest and leave it at that. But if they do want to talk more then:
- ask open questions to explore the situation further
- trust your gut on what king of questions to ask
Self-care – Throughout this process be sure to look after yourself
It can be easy to carry the burden of knowledge with other people’s problems. So make sure you look after you.
- What do you need to do to not carry the load yourself
- Maybe touch base with a mutual mate and get them to check in as well.
Follow-up – Schedule a time for you to reconnect with them
This demonstrates real care and might help them have someone keeping them on track to improve the situation.
- schedule a check-in a week later, how are they going? have the done what they said they would do?
- Who else can help, sometimes a professional. To seek professional advice call these numbers:
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
Confidential Helpline: 1800 737 732
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
A special thanks to the Universal Men who proudly stood up to have a crack at being the best men they can on the Being Great Men weekend and also recorded this epic podcast.
And a special mention to our mate that’s no longer with us. Ben, rest in peace brother.
Featuring in no particular order: Jimmy Purcell, Brendan Hawes, Justin McNamara, Luke Baker, Jeremy Seng, Simon McDonald, Liam McGuire, Shannon Price, Bruce McGregor, Oli Wightman, Greg Ciapello, Liam Clancy, Brent Stevenson, Michael Burns, Damien Jones, Ben Glass, Greg Layton, Damien Price.