As life continues in the shadow of the pandemic, we are learning there is a lot to discuss about how to feel comfortable and stay safe before seeing friends and family. Here are four tips from the state to help have the “COVID Talk” – a conversation to negotiate boundaries and establish expectations ahead of time.
- Ask questions. Before you get together, start with an open and honest conversation about what everyone has been doing to stay healthy and how they have been socializing. Consider everyone’s worries, boundaries and possible COVID-19 exposure risk so you can all get on the same page.
- Focus on what you need. Using “I” instead of “you” statements helps avoid people feeling defensive or judged. In fact, blaming and shaming may actually increase push back and the likelihood of risk-taking behaviors. We recommend sharing what you’re comfortable with, based on your own perspective instead of making demands of others.
- Share why it is important to you. Share what level of risk works for you and why. It might be different for others. Some people feel comfortable taking on a moderate amount of risk in their lives. Others may not feel comfortable taking on any risk. Focusing on your own reasons for staying safe can help people to better understand and get on board.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. We are all for keeping it friendly, open and non-judgmental – but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on your safety! It’s OK to be clear and straightforward about what you need to feel safe and comfortable. It’s also okay to decline invitations or leave situations that feel too risky. You should never have to feel bad or apologize for prioritizing your safety. Lead by example by sticking to what works for you and avoiding judgment.
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Written by the State of Vermont.