freedom fridays #58 with steph clarke it's ok not to be ok r u ok day thursday 8 september 2022 toxic positivity ways to ask r u ok? Sep 04, 2022

Welcome to Weekly Whisper #70.

It’s R U OK? day in Australia this week. Like many, I believe the R U OK? sentiment and compassion should be demonstrated throughout the year. R U OK? should be for life, not just for September 8th. Anything that we can collectively do to continue to raise awareness and effectiveness is a good thing. There is a ton of resources available here on the RUOK website.

If this whisper triggers anything you can seek help here ruok.org.au/findhelp.


It’s such a simple yet profoundly important act of service – the willingness to ask someone R U OK? And crucially, be with them as they consider an answer - or even whether they answer.

My own perspective on this is that whatever answer comes out - even if it's silence - our willingness to remain with them is the most important part. In a world where there’s so much noise – inside and outside our head – the connection that someone can feel when they sense someone is ‘with’ them can be life-changing. Often, we might worry about what to say next and therefore not ask the question in the first place. My encouragement is to ask anyway.

My own experience – on either side – is the heartfelt connection one experiences when you sense someone is with you – in all our imperfections - is potentially life-changing. To feel heard and seen when life is noisy and overwhelming is a gift we can share with others. 

I encourage you to ask – R U OK? And sit in the awkwardness or discomfort with whatever answer ensues.

Remember, you'll never know when a conversation might change a life.

And it's OK not to be OK

It’s normal to try and reassure someone who is struggling that things will work out OK. In our intent to help we can sometimes miss someone’s need to have someone else be OK with them not being OK.

Toxic positivity is a phrase coined to explain our rush to escape the discomfort felt when someone is willing to express their not OK-ness. It’ll be fine – everything happens for a reason – it could be worse – look on the bright side – all examples of language I’ve used in the past and probably will in the future. The challenge is that I may miss entirely what’s going on for someone and to cover the cracks with positivity can sometimes bury the full – and healthy – expression of how they are actually feeling. Brene Brown talks about an ‘empathy miss’. Missing the opportunity to connect with someone and instead, due to our own discomfort, trying to move the conversation along so we avoid the discomfort.

R U OK with them not being OK?

HBR - It's Okay to Not Be Okay

The Medium - Brene Browns 6 Empathy Misses

Quote of the week: Don’t tell someone to get over it, help them through it - R U OK?

You’ll never really know what someone else is carrying. You don’t necessarily need to (or in fact can) carry it for them. Walk alongside so they feel supported.

It Took Me Being Asked R U OK? to Realise I Wasn't

You're already qualified to ask R U OK?

Question of the week: Different ways to ask R U OK?

- You seem a bit less chatty than usual. How are you travelling?

- You seemed distracted this morning. What’s on your mind mate?

- I know you’ve had a lot on your plate recently. How are you going?

- It’s been tough for you recently. How are you really going?

- I’ve been a little concerned for you lately, you don’t have to say anything right now but when or if you’re ready, I’ll be right here.

Freedom Fridays Podcast Episode #58

An exploration of what freedom means. Through a series of conversations with experts and leaders in their field, we explore some of the ways we can be free from whatever is holding us back. We’ll share some of the ingredients – easy, hard, and almost impossible.

The lessons are hiding in open sight within the conversation – it’s up to you how you apply them.

In Episode #58 Pete chats with Steph Clarke. Steph is a facilitator and modern-day L&D program and curriculum designer, a visual and graphic designer, and an auditor in a past life. Steph reimagines organisational learning. Her combination of skills and experiences allow her to channel her energy into what she enjoys and is excited by the organisations that are rethinking and challenging how people work and learn at work. Steph is an advocate of ongoing learning and enjoys breaking it down into bite-sized shareable chunks through her podcast Steph’s Business Bookshelf Podcast.

Steph and Pete chat about their shared love of books and the prerequired reading for leaders who want to get things done and lead people well. Steph gives her definition of trust which is an amalgamation of definitions expertly put together by the best. And they discuss learning goals, recognition of learning, and what aspiring companies can achieve in this area.





That's all for this week. I hope you enjoyed Weekly Whisper #70.

Feedback is my fuel so if you have any comments please send me an email at [email protected] and let me know your thoughts.





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