Listen, nod and don’t be afraid to smile.

CCNB provides information, advice and guidance, to people who are often at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. Our new virtual model challenged our experienced practitioners who pre-empted that showing empathy over the telephone or through a screen is just not the same. Maybe so, but when I was speaking to Laura last week, it reminded me of something I had forgotten.

Laura and her family had experienced the unimaginable. Jim died by suicide several weeks ago. In the context of COVID-19 Laura reached out for information, advice and guidance. What started off as a short telephone call seeking an answer to one question turned out to be a warm, honest and moving experience. A relationship was formed and Laura said to me, “I can see you smile, I’m smiling back at you”.

You see , as an experienced practitioner what I had forgotten was, that people respond to how you make them feel. Giving them information is fine. Linking them to services is important. Assessing their needs is critical. But remembering to listen, nod and smile, even when someone cannot see you, has a profound impact on how you make them feel.

Marika Kontellis is CCNB’s Director Community and Services Development. She also works directly with people impacted by suicide.

Image from Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels