How to behave best when it comes to illness 2

How to behave best when it comes to illness

Make the right sound

How to behave best when it comes to illness

Berlin
"How are you?" Some respond honestly. But what if? How do you react when a neighbor tells you about her migraine – or even a cancer diagnosis?

Sensitive topic: Discussions about illness are often difficult - but one has to say goodbye to empty phrases.

Sensitive topic: Discussions about illness are often difficult – but one has to say goodbye to empty phrases.

Photo: AP

How to behave best when it comes to illness

Some conversations get cold: when you meet a neighbor at a supermarket and hear about her cancer diagnosis. But also when you are resting in the daycare center with stress and the mother reports in detail about her back pain.

Whether it's a serious illness or a little Zipperlein – illness stories are often a part of everyday conversation. And many wonder: what am I really saying now?

A short question, sometimes a long answer

"If we ask anyone in their daily lives what he is like, it's really just a polite phrase," says social worker Christoph Sczygiel. He is a speaker at Haufe Academy. No one expects a long illness report here.

In the US in particular, this type of communication is widespread, adds Karsten Noack. On the surface, that's not necessary, says a Berlin-based communications coach. "Meeting in such a positive way makes living together easier, creating a friendly atmosphere."

In Germany, the "good" answer is really common, but not quite as common as in the US, says Noack. "Many people actually use the issue to communicate in detail." For kind examiners, these situations are often overwhelming.

Between honesty and kindness

Noack has a clear attitude: "If you ask, you should expect to receive an honest answer, and those who cannot stand it should not ask either." But many land in "How are you?" automatically automatically. What if we do not have time for the daily torment of our colleague?

If the person does not belong to the circle of acquaintances, the person may try to stay with the phrases in order to return some space, advises Christoph Sczygiel. A sentence like "sometimes life is exhausting" is also grateful and a sign that we are not going deeper.

Listen to intuition when in doubt

And the neighbor in the hall, who keeps telling me about Zipperlein? Or from her depressed mood? Noack could easily have people put them in drawers and no longer take them seriously. Because with a depressed mood one often thinks only of melancholy, but not of serious illness.

And if one doubts the real trouble behind the same phrases? "If you want to help, you can ask the person how they deal with their problem," says Peter Walschburger, professor of psychology at the Free University of Berlin. "It's a caring, compassionate and solution-oriented conversation that allows the other person to develop their own perspectives without raising a moral finger."

No phrase and no patronage

But what if close relatives and friends tell us about the disease? Even then it is difficult for many to hit the right note. Health psychologist Sabine Günther felt it in her body. During cancer, she experienced various reactions. "The phrases are out of place," Bambergerin says. It is rarely helpful to "head up". Equally uncomfortable, she felt the phrases beginning with "You have to now." "Patience should be avoided," she says.

It is also important to show compassion but not overcome. "During my illness, I was busy trying to comfort others," Günther says. He should also be careful with advice. "Sometimes it just helps to listen."

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