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Yet, more than a third of the time (38 percent) when a person says the “f word” (fine), they’re not being honest.
More than two-thirds (70 percent) regularly say “I’m fine” on autopilot before even thinking about how they really are.
The research, commissioned by Walkers for its “F Word Report”, also revealed the barriers to giving open and honest answers – with the main reason being that it’s easier than explaining why they’re not fine (47 percent).
More than a third (35 percent) don’t think people actually want to know how they are.
And one in four (24 percent) don’t give an honest answer for fear of being seen as “draining” or negative, while a fifth think they’ll come across as a “mood killer”.
It also emerged the average adult asks others how they are at least four times per day – but just 55 percent actually want to know how the other person is.
Ruby Wax, comedian and mental health campaigner, said: “As someone who has been very open about their battle with mental health, and has studied human psychology extensively, for me the greatest method of entry into people’s minds is making them laugh.
“Often, it’s not about the question you’re asking, but the context and way in which you ask it, that will impact the way in which the other person responds.
“And for me, appearing as authentic and open as possible is the best way to get others to open up with how they’re honestly feeling.
“As a subject very close to my heart, I’m hoping that through this campaign and banning what is, in my opinion, the most offensive “F***” word out there, we can open up the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing.”
Appearing as authentic and open as possible is the best way to get others to open up with how they’re honestly feeling
Ruby Wax, comedian
The study also found over half of adults (54 percent) would be more likely to admit when they’re not feeling fine if others answered honestly.
Of those who have ever opened up to someone else about how they’re feeling, many were met with unenthused reactions – including the other person changing the subject (17 percent), ignoring them (17 percent), or saying nothing at all (16 percent).
More than one in ten (12 percent) have even had people walk away.
If faced with someone opening up when they asked them “how are you?”, many admit they’d struggle and wouldn’t know what to say to help them feel better (14 percent), or they would feel awkward (13 percent) or out of their depth (11 percent).
Almost half (45 percent) believe it’s typically British for people to say they’re “great” or “fine” even if they’re not, and 30 percent sometimes don’t give an honest response because it’s not “polite”.
It was also revealed that “How are you?” is the most common way to ask others how they are for 45 percent – but “are you ok?” and “everything ok?” are the questions most likely to encourage people to open up.
But almost two-thirds (64 percent) wouldn’t even open up to their closest friend, and 77 percent wouldn’t give an honest answer if their parents asked “how are you?”.
Money worries (29 percent), feeling lonely (29 percent) and fearing they’re not good enough (27 percent) are among the top things that get the nation’s moods down.
Additionally, social media “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is a source of strife for Gen Z and Millennials, with 29 percent of 18-24-year-olds and 21 percent of 25-34-year-olds claiming this gets them down, compared to 15 percent of the general population.
However, there appears to be truth to the belief that laughter is the best medicine, with 45 percent claiming a good laugh with a friend or relative is likely to improve their mood.
And one in three (34 percent) think talking it through with loved ones helps.
Irina Panescu, from Walkers, said: “We believe humour is a great ally to start conversations and open up about real feelings, so through our partnership with Comic Relief and campaigns like these we’re on a mission to get the nation talking and looking after mental wellbeing.
“We’ve always been about bringing levity and moments of relief to people’s lives, so as a brand this was a natural territory for us to explore.
“But we certainly weren’t expecting the results we received, and were surprised by just how much the nation is bottling up how they’re truly feeling, with “I’m fine” being used on autopilot, rather than as an honest response.
““Fine” stops us from opening up about how we really feel – so through banning the “F***” word this week, we want to open up the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing, and encourage the nation to give honest and open answers when they’re asked “how are you”.”
To find out more, and join Walkers and Comic Relief in giving up the “F***” (fine) word, visit here.
RUBY’S TOP 5 TIPS TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO OPEN UP WHEN ASKED “HOW ARE YOU?”:
- The greatest method of entry into people’s minds is making them laugh, so lead with light-hearted, laugh-inducing questions, and use humour in your responses.
- Often it’s not about the question you’re asking, but the way in which you ask it that will impact the way in which the other person responds. Don’t just bark it at them and move on. Look them in the eyes after they say, “Fine,” and you could say, “And besides that how are you?”
- You could start out by telling them (honestly) how you feel. That breaks the ice and they don’t feel so exposed to open up.
- Remember to listen, look at them and show you care, rather than go into autopilot and move away.
- Give them a list of emotions and ask them to pick one – fine will not be accepted.
RUBY’S TOP QUESTIONS TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO OPEN UP:
- Give me the weather conditions inside your head
- How’s life?
- I’ll tell you how I am if you tell me – honestly
- From 1-10, 10 being fine, how are you?
- Let’s cut out “fine” and now tell me
- If your life was in the news, what would be the headline right now?
RUBY’S ALTERNATIVE WORDS FOR “FINE”:
- The “f” word is how I am
- How long have you got?
- I’m whatever you’re feeling, so you tell me first
- I’m cutting out “fine”, so you still want to know?
- Don’t ask! (In Joan Rivers style)
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