When we have to ask someone about their health, often we safely ask, how is your health now?
Are there any other polite and safe ways how to ask about health? Yes, there are!
Asking someone about their health can be a sensitive matter. When people are not in the best of their health, their emotional and physical health takes a toll.
Every word we utter when we do not know how to ask someone about their health may create an unwanted impression.
As we move ahead in this post, we explore the various dos and don’ts of how to ask about health.
Why should we care about how to ask about health?
Health issues arise for every one of us. For some, they can be physical, while for others it can be an emotional sickness. Some may experience long-term health concerns, while others may have their ups and lows in health in the short term.
Irrespective of the seriousness of the health condition, asking about health is a gesture that you care for and support them in such testing conditions. People remember those who had their back in times of need, and this goodwill is what you achieve when you ask someone about their health genuinely.
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How to ask about health: Dos
Checking about others’ health needs immense care. Factors like age, relationship, gender, culture, and background need to be accounted for when asking about the other person’s health condition.
Remember these dos about how to ask about health to sound genuine, safe, and polite:
Be culture appropriate
Questions can bear replies based on culture. For instance, a simple “How do you do?” is a formal question in American culture. People do not expect you to detail your issues and health conditions. Rather the appropriate reply would be “doing great! How about you?”
The same question when posed in a culturally different country like India can mean different. For the question “How do you do?”, you can expect a little introduction, and maybe people can also attempt to share their problems.
Mind their Age
When you get ready to learn how to ask about health, the individual’s age is a major element.
For the elderly, you must be able to offer an empathetic ear rather than trying to come up with your suggestions.
For younger ones, the right way can be to listen to them and then offer words that diver their minds towards the brighter side of life.
When people are in a weak condition, they need a listening ear to vent out their emotions. Their sickness might have hampered their life plans and dreams. They might be upset that they are not able to do what they wanted to or like other people of their age.
When you want to ask about their health, the first thing that should cross your mind is to be able to offer an empathetic ear.
Listen to fully what they have shared with occasional nodding. Pause and enquire about their progress in the treatment and health condition. You could also check the doctor’s advice on their lifestyle or diet and medication if you believe it helps and if the sick person brings that topic.
Ensure right body language
Maintain compassionate eye contact. Sit upright when speaking with the sick person. Based on the cultural appropriateness and medical condition, hold their hand when listening to display warmth.
Respect their privacy
Health can be a personal condition. Assure that sick person that you would not divulge their health-related information to others. Give them the space and privacy they deserve before asking the questions.
How to ask about health: Dont’s
Mind these tips on how to ask about health and avoid them when you talk to an unwell person next time:
- Keep distractions aside. Checking your phone or looking out of the windows or at the clock or TV might sound rude when you are talking to an unhealthy person. Give your attention fully to the person and show that you are there genuinely to listen to them.
- Don’t sound cliché. “Things happen for a reason” is never a great idea to say to a sick person. When you do not know what to say, better avoid cliches’ and say “I do not know what to say. But I can assure you that I can help you in any way you need. Please feel free to let me know of any help I can be of.”
- Don’t compare. You or other contacts might have gone through the same health condition that the person you are visiting right now is in. That should not let you compare them with others. Understand that everyone’s mentality and strength vary, and so should your responses.
- Never bring discussion about death. People may be battling with severest health conditions. That should not permit you to speak of death or beyond. Urge your feelings about speaking about such extreme topics. Remain silent and neutral in case you are confused about what to say.
- Do not blame them. The health condition might be due to their bad habits or lifestyle. That should not permit you to blame them right away. Leave what has been done and let them not feel any remorse or shame for their actions.
- Respond, do not react. Displaying overreactions might worry the sick person more than you imagine. For instance, the person might have been detected with an advanced stage of illness. Refrain from saying: “Oh my God! That’s terrible!” Instead be calm, empathetic, and replay after a pause, “I am sorry to hear this. Hope you will recover soon.”
How to ask about health: Common expressions
Based on varying health conditions and relationships with the sick person, here are certain expressions to use how to ask about health.
- How are things: – A generic question instead of how is your health now that checks their overall health condition.
- Is everything okay: A question to ask when the other person is close to you.
- Are you feeling okay: Use this question when you sense that the other person is tired or feeling sick visibly.
- How have you been keeping: Ask this question to enquire how the person is doing and any improvement in their health lately.
- Are you in good shape now: To find out if they recovered from their sickness.
- Are you injured/are you bleeding/are you hurt: When a person has had an accident, these are some questions about how to ask about health.
How to ask about health formally?
The expressions below will help you to ask about the health of your coworkers, colleagues, and someone in your workplace.
Use these questions given below in a formal setting or while talking to elders instead of using how is your health now.
- May I help you with anything?
- Is there anything I can do for you to get through this?
- Do you want to talk to me about anything?
- I am listening. Would you like to share anything?
- How is it going?
- You look out of sort. Are things okay?
- How are things?
- I hope everything is okay.
- How have you been keeping?
- How is everything with your health?
What if you have done something wrong by checking someone about their health?
None of us are perfect at asking questions. In situations like asking someone about their health, the sick person might take offense to a rather general question or would not want to answer. It is understandable given their condition and emotional state.
If you believe you might have hurt the person by asking the inappropriate question, don’t think twice to apologize. Here’s how to do it:
- “I think I said something that made you shut down. I’m sorry. Can we go back?”
- “I must not have said it. Apologies for being insensitive. Please tell me how I can help you.”
- “I really apologize for what I have said. I think I should give you space and privacy. Please get well soon.”
- “I am sorry for what I said. Please do not stress out. You would be well soon.”
How to ask about health is an art everyone should master. It saves relationships, makes us better humans, and creates a good impression on others. Let us know in your comments what you use to ask instead of how is your health now.
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