What to Do When Someone You Love Won't Take the Coronavirus Pandemic Seriously

How to Talk to Family Members and Friends About COVID-19

When someone you care about downplays the seriousness of the current coronavirus outbreak, it's reasonable to feel upset and scared. You can't force someone to change their mind, but you can approach the topic with empathy -- here's how to have those tough conversations.

(Gently) remind your loved ones that this isn’t only about them

Government agencies and health experts across the world emphasize the importance of staying at home and other mitigation measures, but some people may not realize how much of an impact their actions can have on others. In times of crisis, it’s human nature to focus on our own personal risks.

So, you want to remind your loved ones that their actions affect other people, but what’s the best way to deliver the message? People tend to have more empathy for those closest to them, so try framing the issue with a statement like, “When you stay at home, you’ll be helping people who don’t have strong immune systems, like Grandma and Grandpa.”

You don’t want to create conflict or incite defensiveness, either, which is why it’s so important to approach the topic gently. 

Ask questions and try to understand their point of view

Before bombarding someone with facts and figures, ask questions. You’ll gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from, and you won’t come across as a know-it-all. Here are some questions to try:

  • What have you heard about coronavirus?
  • Do you feel prepared for the pandemic in terms of food and other supplies?
  • How are your friends and neighbors preparing?
  • Do you feel scared or anxious at all?
  • Can I share some of my worries and concerns?

Watch your tone

We’re experiencing a major public health crisis, and you may be at your wit’s end trying to convince a loved one to take coronavirus seriously. Regardless, you’ll always catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. 

It’s not easy, but be mindful of your tone — you don’t want to make the other party feel angry, misunderstood or like they need to dig into their position defensively.

Find a “trusted messenger”

The messenger has a huge impact on whether someone will believe the message — if you’re an adult who’s ever tried to convince their parents of something, you likely already know this. 

When trying to persuade someone to take the coronavirus pandemic more seriously, consider engaging a “trusted messenger” to help. This could be a friend, sibling, family member or even their favorite news outlet.

Don’t forget to take care of your own mental health

At the end of the day, we all have to accept that we can’t force someone to change their mind. You can control your own mindset and emotions, however. If you need some extra help taking care of your mental wellbeing right now, don’t miss this article from our blog: Taking Care of Your Mental Health During a Pandemic.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life’s greatest challenges. Contact us today!