Be honest with your friends

Auteur : Movember
I am passionate about men's health because I'm a Dad, Brother, Uncle, friend, and mentor to the men and women in my life and I plan on being around as long as I can. In order to make that happen, I realized that I've got to work on staying physically fit, mentally healthy and getting the connection and support that I need. One way of making that happen is to talk about what is going on with me with my friends and family and encouraging my friends and family to do the same.
 
At times, social stigma can make it difficult for men to talk about how they are doing and what they are feeling. Many men fear being perceived as week, vulnerable or 'not able to hack it' by others - especially their friends or family. We need to make it OK for men to talk more and open up.
 
What has helped me talk more freely about how I am doing is by building friendships and engaging in activities with other men - sometimes in 'men only groups' like our annual men's camping trip - and sometimes as part of family outings like picnics or family camping trips.  The point is that by 'getting away' we can have conversations that may be more difficult in our normal daily settings. Telling the truth about what's going on in my life with friends who ask is another way of talking about how I'm doing. For example, my kids starting school brought renewed homework battles. A friend asked – how are things going?  Instead of saying - 'fine,’ I said - "man, we had a homework battle the other night. It was a big bummer.” Then, he said, "that's funny we had one of those in our house too" and we proceeded to discuss the 'homework battles' and generated a few laughs about it. The honesty helped me to gain insight.
 
Sharing my experience with my friend, brings me to my next point about the importance of having a good listener around when you are willing to talk. I am lucky enough to have great listeners in my life. To me, good listeners are not judgmental and do not rush to provide answers or solutions. Good listeners ask questions that encourage the speaker to say more - so they ask open-ended questions.  Good listeners focus on what the speaker is saying and not preparing their response to what the speaker is sharing.  My wife has listened to some of my stories over and over again for 20+ years and she still mostly listens - I know that because if I miss a detail or two in a juicy story she's there to remind me. During my youth, I benefitted from my Mom's non-judgmental listening skills.  She would listen to an entire story of mine before reacting. And today, I have several friends that I confide in and upon whom I can depend for honest and sometime humorous feedback.
 
To all of the men out there, be honest with your friends.  Don't be afraid tell them the things that bother you or keep you up at night. Be there for one another, and make a point to connect in-person over every day activities. Ask them, 'dude, do you need a little time away from the house/family?’ Don't be afraid to ask your buddy to ride to Home Depot, get mulch or refill your propane tanks with you. Then, use that as an opportunity to talk about something or nothing at all.  
 
And for those who want men to open up, first realize that many men may not want to leap right into a conversation about how they are doing. That must be respected. Men like to do stuff. To get a man to talk ask him to do something he likes to do, get him doing it and then use that as a potential opportunity to build the relationship and - if the man wants to - talk about how the man is doing. Ask a guy if he wants to go do something that he likes and you will not only lead him to the water – he will drink. 

 
 

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Simple steps to important conversations.

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