Now that we’ve reviewed several approaches to empathetically communicate across differences and share difficult information in the context of Brian and Diane, identify a real person in your life whom you’ve noticed may benefit from a conversation about COVID-19. Reach out.
Remember that in today’s world, there are many ways to do so. Some ideas:
Direct message someone who has posted something on social media about COVID-19 that you disagree with. Start exploratively: “I saw your post yesterday and was curious about what you meant by…”
Call a friend or family member who may be overwhelmed by the facts around COVID-19 and communicate such information while being attentive to their emotions and concerns.
During that conversation, consider your new frameworks. Reflect on the “identity conversation” from the Difficult Conversations formulation. Think about where they are coming from–what factors might affect why they are behaving or speaking the way they are? Consider the Prochaska’s Stages of Change model and personalize your approach when encouraging them to make changes to their daily life, such as cancelling social gatherings (as you would for Brian) or accepting temporary help with daily activities (like for Diane).
Let’s imagine that you have a chance to speak with Brian and engage in some motivational interviewing. Together, you explore ways for him to spend his time besides going out with friends. He mentions his grandmother, and, in time, makes a habit of talking with her every couple days. She, in turn, begins to feel comfortable with Brian and even asks if he would be willing to go out and shop for her groceries next week. Thanks to your empathetic counseling, both our characters find ways to make important changes to their lives, while staying in touch with one another via FaceTime and supporting each other through this difficult time.
To help you with these conversations, our classmates have compiled a number of resources intended for public audiences without medical training, provided below for reference.
FAQ documents: CDC FAQ section (updated September 2020)
One-page guides: "What you should know about COVID-19 to protect yourself and others" (updated June 2020)