Q: Some friends in your circle have received the coronavirus vaccine and constantly bug you about when you will receive it, implying you're not trying hard enough to sign up. What should you say?
A: You can start by communicating your enthusiasm for the fact they've been vaccinated, so they don't feel judged or worry that you're not taking the pandemic seriously: "I am so glad that you've received it, and I am definitely looking forward to my turn. Which shouldn't be too much longer now!"
If you start to feel more pressure from them, you can open up a bit more, assuming the best of their intentions: "I so appreciate your positive intention. And I've also come to peace with just waiting a little longer, as I recognize that not everyone can get it at once. I've waited this long, and I can do another month or so to give as many vulnerable people as possible the chance to get theirs before me. Please rest assured, I'm still trying to stay as safe as possible."
The most important thing is to end with an invitation that opens the door for more connection, such as, "In the meantime, before I can be in groups, when can you and I meet up for a walk?" Or change the subject with, "I can't wait to hear what fun plans you have coming up this summer!"
Our goals in our conversation are to amplify the opportunities for positive emotions (appreciation that they care, gratitude that they received their shots and excitement for our upcoming opportunity), to share a bit of our process (communicating that we feel good about our choice and sharing a bit of our reasoning), and to use it as a diving board for more ongoing connection.
Shasta Nelson, friendship expert, speaker and author of "Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness"
A: This is a health issue, so actually it's nobody's business. However, many people do feel pressured by friends and family about getting vaccinated.
A response that could help ease their anxiety and not result in further questions would be, "I'm working on it." If friends pry further and offer suggestions of where to get an appointment, a clear thank-you can end the conversation. Try not to get stuck in the debate of how or when. This is a personal choice, which should not include shame.
Kelley Kitley, psychotherapist and owner of Serendipitous Psychotherapy