You Asked! Navigating COVID-19

You Asked! is the column where the Center for Healthy Relationships (CHR) answers.

Q: I’m done with wearing masks, too, but how do I handle people that are ignoring all the guidelines to help keep JBU open and safe!?!

Our question for 2020: “Why? Just why?” We have yet to meet a person who is loving the changes this year has brought. Some people have not minded, but nobody is saying, “Yeah! 2020 forever!” This, however, brings up a good issue to discuss: what do you do when other people’s choices bother or affect you?  Here are a few steps for managing your experiences.

1. Assess the relationship.

Some people have a seat on the “front row” of your life—your parents, your close friends and maybe a special someone (sure, Jesus, too, but we meant that person you text every day). Meanwhile, others are in the “good seats” like classmates, professors, maybe suitemates or others you interact with regularly but are not your besties. And, finally, some people are in the “nosebleeds” —you know, people in the cheap seats who do not have a right to speak into your life.

When you see someone doing something that pushes the guidelines, consider the person and act accordingly. Your ability to influence someone else’s behavior is going to be stronger the closer they are to your “front row.” Pick your challenges so that you have the most impact. If your roommate is not social distancing, you will want to keep after that since the other person’s behavior affects you. But, if you see eight people sitting at a picnic table intended for two, your investment might not be more than saying “Hey! Where’s the Chip-width?” while you walk past.

2. Be clear and concise.

Whether it’s a good friend, classmate or “some guy,” when you decide to say something to them, try to be as clear and concise as possible. Avoid the typical approach and don’t give all the details, arguments and anecdotes you have in your head. A clear and concise statement on this topic could be, “I would appreciate if you would respect the rule to wear a mask.” This clearly communicates that you would like a physical change, and does not have excess information about your thoughts, judgments, made up statistics or anything else. It is easy to understand and comply with. A simple request hopefully gets a simple response.

3. You take care of you.

After assessing the relationship and clearly and concisely making your request for change, the person may ignore you or try to begin an argument. At this point, our advice is to decide what to do for yourself. If you decide it is not worth it and want to say, “I don’t want to argue, I just wanted to make that request,” that might end the interaction. Or you can choose to engage in a loving Christ-like manner (just don’t call them a brood of vipers…). Either way, after steps one and two of our advice, it is up to you to decide about you. We cannot change others, we just have to decide how to handle ourselves.


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