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  • Tamar Balkin

Today Is "R U OK" Day. Are You Here To Hear?


"It's okay to not be okay To dive in your pain And it's alright to not be alright To search for your light And it's all good to not be all good"

24/7 by Kehlani (Click here for the song)

The goal of R U OK Day is to encourage meaningful conversations about mental health and emotional well-being. This year the emphasis is on really listening. Whilst you may be having regular catch-ups with those around you. Take some time today to make a list of individuals you haven't connected with in a while. Prioritize truly connecting with them by engaging in meaningful conversations about their lives, rather than just discussing tasks or agendas. This includes remote workers, colleagues, friends, and those who may be working interstate.


"R U OK? is calling on all of us to let the people you care about know you're here, to really hear them.

Asking R U OK? is the first step, but you also need to genuinely listen to what comes next. We conducted research to understand what a meaningful R U OK? conversation looks like for Australians in 2023. People commonly mentioned three things:

Trust: they need to know the person they speak to is someone they trust, and, for many, someone they are close to.

Authenticity: they want to know the person asking them genuinely wants to hear answer.

Environment: people prefer to have these conversations in a private space with enough time to share what they want to say."


What does it really mean to listen as a leader?


“At its core, active listening is a higher form of listening to gain a deeper understanding of the message and the context.”

Jonsdottir, I.J. And Fridriksdottir, K.


According to the research, active listening comprises the following elements: Attitude: The leader needs to keep their own preconceived opinions and prejudice under control, and convey a genuine interest in the speaker’s words Aptitude: The leader needs technical skills like physical expression, appropriate eye contact, open curious questions, silence, contemplation, repetition, and revision. Together these elements: create relationships; transmit messages of interest respect and empathy, and ensure correct understanding. Experienced leaders eliminate any possible interference or interruption in their surroundings so that they can focus completely on the speaker. They can listen for what was not directly said when interpreting the entire meaning of a message.

Is it enough to just listen?

Regular readers would understand that taking care of our own well-being is crucial to being able to empathetically listen to the challenges faced by others. Researchers have found that identifying well-being not negotiables provides a guide for the elements of life and work that are critical to maintaining psychological health in stressful circumstances. This year in addition to taking the time to ask others if they are OK, make the time to reflect on what you are doing to care for your own psychological wellbeing.

If you know in your gut that you are not feeling yourself, don't hesitate or wait till you are really languishing, act now and make an appointment to see your GP.


Australian sources of help

  • Mental health crisis team- 1800 011 511 (24 hours)

  • Doctor

  • Clinical psychologist

  • 000

The role of the clinical psychologist is to help people who are languishing move to flourishing.


Other useful resources:

R U OK website: Black Dog Institute: Health Direct A government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice: Australian Psychological Society: - What is a psychologist and how do they help: - Areas of practice for Clinical psychologists Some past R U OK Day blogs:

Please, email me and tell me "What are you going to do differently this R U OK Day?"



Jonsdottir, I.J. And Fridriksdottir, K. (2019). Active Listening: Is It The Forgotten Dimension In Managerial Communication? International Journal Of Listening, 34(3), Pp.1–11. Doi:Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/10904018.2019.1613156.

‌Graham D. Bodie, Andrea J. Vickery, Kaitlin Cannava & Susanne M. Jones (2015) The Role of “Active Listening” in Informal Helping Conversations: Impact on Perceptions of Listener Helpfulness, Sensitivity, and Supportiveness and Discloser Emotional Improvement, Western Journal of Communication, 79:2, 151-173, DOI: 10.1080/10570314.2014.943429

More available on request.

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