This World Mental Health Day, we reflect on the power of three simple words “Are you OK?” and the impact they can have in the workplace. This blog post was contributed by Mike Newman.

We’ve all been there: walking into the boss’s office, heart pounding, as they review your performance metrics. “Your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row. Get it together or you’re out.” Does it really inspire you to improve? Doubtful.

Then I came across an alternative approach in a lecture by Simon Sinek. “I’ve noticed your sales numbers are down for the third quarter in a row. Are you OK?” Three simple words. Are you OK? This isn’t just managerial speak; it’s a game-changer.

Why “Are You OK?” is More Than Just Words 🌟

1️⃣ Opens up a Conversation: This question treats the person as a human, not just a set of performance metrics, and creates space for genuine dialogue.

2️⃣ Builds Trust: When you ask someone if they’re OK, you’re saying you care about the person, not just their productivity.

3️⃣ Promotes a Caring Culture: The phrase can subtly shift an entire team’s mindset, helping to build an environment where people feel seen and heard.

My Thoughts 🧠

In the early days of my career, I was fortunate to work under a leader who truly understood the value of making his team feel seen and heard. The impact on our performance was tangible. We were motivated, engaged, and committed to doing our best. On the flip side, I’ve also witnessed the void that’s left when this human element is missing. Trust me, the absence of simple, authentic interaction can have a profound impact you might not fully appreciate until it’s gone.

The Ripple Effect 🌊

With 1 in 4 people either having or have had depression, consider the impact if they’re struggling and you stop to ask, ‘Are you OK?’ There might be tears of relief; their whole body might just relax. Now imagine the impact on you and your reputation when that person leaves your office feeling seen and heard, rather than threatened and disregarded. What will they say about you to colleagues? Chances are, not only will you feel amazing, but your reputation will likely rocket. I’d even bet those sales numbers will start to improve. When you treat someone well, others hear about it. When you treat someone badly, others hear about that too. Pay it forward with compassion.

The next time you find yourself reviewing someone’s performance, consider also asking if they’re OK. It could make more of a difference than you realise.

Thank you Mike!

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