What to say on the phone when you’re calling someone who is self-isolating

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Having a phone conversation with close friends or family in happy times is one thing.

Picking up the phone to someone who may be self-isolating, who may be someone you’ve only ever met in a gathering, or even to a neighbour you don’t know well at all, can be scary. But at this time we need to get beyond our social discomfort for the sake of others.

‘How are you?’

‘Ok I suppose / Not bad / Fine under the circumstances’

It doesn’t make for a great conversation.

When you call, make sure you introduce yourself properly. You might want to check if it’s a good time to talk. Then as you chat these questions might help.

 

  1. “What is life like for you at the moment?”

Listen not just to what they say, but how they say it.

 

  1. “In what ways are you finding it difficult to do what needs to be done?”

This is more open than ‘how can I help?’, and enables people to describe the need they feel in their own way, without having to directly ask. You could follow up with specific questions about supplies, medication or practical support.

 

  1. “What can I be praying for you?”

This is gentler and less threatening to some than ‘what can I pray for you?’

 

If they are a Christian, you could ask this:

  • “Are there any books, verses or songs you’re finding particularly helpful at this time?”

If not, you might be able to talk about what you have been finding helpful.

 

  • “What are you praying for you at the moment?”

You could offer to join them in praying for it. You may want to end the call by asking if they would mind you saying a prayer, and praying over the phone.

 

Let’s encourage one another to pick up the phone. A few minutes chatting today will make it easier to do tomorrow. As Hebrews 3:13 says, ‘Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’.

 

Who could you call today?