Why you need self-compassion in your life and how to do it (even when you don’t want to)

At Skip the Small Talks, we ask attendees to have compassion for others and for themselves as they try out new ways to hold conversations. It’s probably obvious why we care about people having compassion for each other at an event where strangers are getting to know each other for the first time, but equally if not more important in that context is self-compassion. That’s because any attempt at change or improvement generally goes much more smoothly if you’re not beating yourself up after every setback. Connecting genuinely often requires taking some risks (like sharing things that feel a little vulnerable), and having compassion for yourself when those risks don’t pan out the way you hope can help you continue taking some risks in the long-term, and can help make the learning process easier for you in the short-term. 

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How to talk about your accomplishments without sounding like a jerk

So you just got a promotion, or maybe you got a nice compliment from a passing stranger on your outfit, or maybe you won a free cruise. It’s human to want to tell people about the cool stuff that’s happened to you. It can amplify your excitement to share with someone who “gets it,” and it can help inspire and motivate others who hear about your successes. But nobody wants to seem like a jerk, and more importantly, you probably don’t want to make other people feel badly if they find themselves comparing their lives to this great thing that just happened to you. That’s why we’ve put together some tips for sharing the good stuff without making other people feel badly.

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12 Nayyirah Waheed poems that Skip the Small Talk

We're excited to either introduce you to or remind you about made-famous-by-Instagram-but-actually-because-of-talent-not-just-because-her-stuff-is-on-Instagram poet Nayyirah Waheed. Her books salt. and Nejma are brimming with unpretentious poems that capture human experiences we don't usually talk about in everyday life. So, obviously, she's very much our jam. Here are some of our favorite poems of hers that capture some of the ideas we've discussed in other blogposts or at our events.

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The normal you wish you were

“It’s hard spending time with people who are the normal you wish you were,” said one of my closest friends. Her husband was struggling with a dependency on alcohol, and he found it painful to hang out with friends who could have a few drinks and call it a night. He would regularly talk himself into thinking he could be “normal” like them and just have a few drinks, but “a few” invariably turned into “too many” for him, and he would end up feeling shame about not being able to control his relationship with alcohol.
 

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One quick tip for way better conversations

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings,” said Stephen King, riffing off of a William Faulkner quote about writing. King and Faulkner were pointing out that the best writers are willing to erase portions of their writing that don't fit the larger story, even if the writing itself is good.


It’s the same with conversations. The best conversationalists are willing to go with the flow instead of trying to insert a thought from a few minutes ago wherever they can, even if that thought is clever, funny, or insightful. They're willing to give up contributing any given idea in order to be more present.

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The fastest compatibility test you've never heard of

Okay, we’ll run with the title and make this quick. When someone new is entering your life, whether it’s a friend, a coworker, a romantic interest, or someone else you’re still figuring out how and to what extent you’d like to fit them into your life, try asking yourself:

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How to ask for help

Asking for help is vulnerable; when we solicit support of any kind, we open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection and all the accompanying feelings and self-judgments. So, it’s understandable that many of us feel anxious about it or have a hard time asking others for much beyond passing the mashed potatoes at dinner-- and even that can raise anxiety.

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How to write better e-mails

“Tuesday at 3 pm is great. Thanks for your flexibility. Looking forward to chatting then.”


Imagine that the above e-mail pops into your inbox. Do you get the impression that the message’s author is actually looking forward to talking to you? It probably depends on context, of course, but stock language like, “Looking forward to chatting,” or, “Thanks for your patience,” or even, “Sincerely,” are so overused that they’ve mostly lost their meaning. Those phrases and others like them are the “small talk” equivalent of e-mail; they’re polite, they usually don’t offer meaningful content, they don’t require a great deal of thought for either person in the interaction, and they are often the easiest mode of communication for people who don’t know each other well. (We’ll focus on work e-mails in this blogpost, but everything here applies just as much to other types of e-mails or online messages.)
 

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Three tips for surviving the holidays

Whether you’re spending the holidays with family, with friends, or with yourself this year, your celebrations probably won’t live up to the impossibly wholesome fireside gatherings that the media depicts as the norm. Well, the good news is that no matter how many pictures of glistening ham you see on Instagram, nobody else’s holiday is going to be perfect, either. So, we’ve come up with some tips for making the most out of your holidays, whatever they look like.

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Do you know how to "be yourself?" The question that will help you be authentic even when the stakes are high

“Just be yourself!”
“Don’t worry about what other people think of you!”
“Dance like nobody’s watching!”
“To thine own self be true.”


We consume these truisms from the moment our infant brains can understand them and we don’t stop until we’ve seen one too many cliché-littered Pinterest boards. But the reality is, if you’re flailing your limbs on the dance floor without a single thought of who’s watching, or who’s within arm’s reach, you might accidentally smack someone in the face. How do you dance like you’re aware that people are watching, but you know that you’re dancing for yourself, and not for them? How can you think about the space you're taking up on the dance floor without having it affect your self-expression? How soon until we're done with this metaphor? It's important to "be true to yourself," but if you’re not thinking about how others respond to your behavior, you might be missing out on opportunities to connect, and you may even hurt others or yourself in the process.
 

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Five Thanksgiving icebreakers that don't suck

Ah, the holidays: A time when we hope our lives will look like those wholesome cartoon specials we watched as children, but also a time when anxieties about getting stuck in conversation with people who hold different political and moral ideologies might keep you from doing that happy dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas.


This Thanksgiving, we encourage you to take some time to connect with others in ways that feel authentic without feeling emotionally exhausting. To help the conversation flow, we offer you some ice-breakers that will get others to share about themselves while subtly nudging everyone’s mood in a positive direction. So if you do end up having the “here’s why racism is bad” conversation with Uncle Joe, you’ll have a buffer of positive experience--and perhaps some common ground--that’ll make it easier for you to communicate with one another.
 

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The conversation hack you've never heard of

Imagine you’re in an animated conversation with someone. You both laugh at something together, but then your chuckles trail off and you’re left in silence. What now?


Do you say something immediately? Do you wait for the other person to say something, no matter how long that takes? Do you jump in with whatever enters your head? Of course, it likely differs from situation to situation, but you probably average some number of seconds before you say something new if the other person doesn’t say anything, and you probably don’t stray too far from that average too often.

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What to do about anger

Has your anger ever led to an action you regretted? Maybe you sent a text you didn’t feel great about, maybe some words came out of your mouth more harshly than you’d intended, or maybe your anger came out sideways and you spent some time silently fuming and distracted from your everyday life. Since anger can compel you to take action before thinking, it can be useful to have some tools ready for the next time you’re feeling peeved.

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Ashley KirsnerSkip the Small Talk, Skip the Small Talk blog, Skip the Small Talk blog post, Skip the Small Talk blogpost, anger, angry, feeling angry, how to deal with anger, how to cope with anger, mindful, mindfulness, deep breaths, deep breathing, I'm so angry, I'm angry, express anger, expressing anger, how do I tell someone I'm angry, metaconversation, metaconversations, art, music, calming, calming music, DBT, dialectical behavior therapy, coping, how to cope, how to cope with feelings, feelings, emotions, overwhelming, overwhelming feelings, I'm feeling overwhelmed, feeling overwhelmed, support hotline, hotline, suicide hotline, journal, journaling, free write, freewrite, freewriting, free-writing, free-write, exercise, Maslow's hierarchy, self-care, anger physiology, fight or flight, fight or flight response, rash, rash decision-making, decision-making, problem-solving, how to make a decision, how to solve a problem, how to be angry, healthy relationships, healthy relaitonship, how to have a healthy relationship, how to have a healthy relationships, how to have healthier relationships, how to maintain your relationships, how to maintain your relationship, how to have long-lasting relationships, how to have better relationships, how to make your relationship last, how to make your relationships healthy, how to have healthy relationships, how to make your relationship healthy, deal with feelings, how to deal with feelings, I'm furious, I don't know what to do, what should I do, explosive anger, What to do with anger, what to do about anger, what to do with anger, anger problem, I have an anger problem, I think I have an anger problem, do I have an anger problem, problem with anger, problems with anger, do I have a problem with anger?, vent, just want to vent, just want to talk, blogsComment
Potato chip connections

Chances are, you’ve had the experience of binging on potato chips or other junk food when what you really wanted was a meal. You’re famished, so instead of taking the time to cook something, you reach for whatever’s quickest, easiest, or most tempting, but you end up feeling like garbage. Connection can work similarly.

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Three relationship tips you won’t find in Cosmo

Whether you’re looking for a good fit with a friend, a romantic partner, or even a new workplace, you’ve probably heard tips like “communication is key” and “stick with someone/somewhere that encourages you to grow” and “go with your gut.” Sometimes even those clichés can be useful, but there are some other “tells” about how any given relationship is going that can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for them, especially since they aren’t as culturally emphasized as platitudes like “follow your heart.” Of course, these aren’t going to be the *only* things you should pay attention to, but they can all be easy to overlook, particularly if you are focusing some portion of your energy on appearing desirable to the other person/ workplace/ whatever.
 

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Ashley Kirsnerrelationship health, romantic relationship, relationships, relationship, relationship advice, romantic relationships, boyfriend, girlfriend, how to keep your girlfriend, how to keep your boyfriend, strong relationships, healthy relationships, how to have a healthy relationships, how to have healthier relationships, how to have healthy relationships, healthy relationship, how to have a healthy relationship, how to make your relationships healthy, how to make your relationship healthy, should I break up with him?, should I break up with her?, should I break up?, should I break up with my girlfriend?, should I break up with my boyfriend?, metaconversation, metaconversations, meta-conversation, meta-conversations, boundary, boundaries, relationship tip, relationship tips, three relationship tips you won't find in Cosmo, Cosmo, Cosmo Magazine, cosmo magazine, cosmopolitan magazine, tips you won't find in cosmo, tips you won't find in cosmo magazine, respecting boundaries, respect boundaries, set boundaries, set boundary, vulnerability, keeping track, better relationships, deep relationships, deeper relationships, emotional labor, stable relationship, stable relationships, should I marry him?, should I marry her?, should we get married?, is he the one?, is she the one?, how do I know?, how will I know?, how do I know if he's the one?, how do I know if she's the one?, talk to him, talk to her, communication, communicating, Skip the Small Talk, skip the small talk advice, advice, love advice, loveComment
A simple way to take your relationships up a notch (or five)

Five to one: According to one of the most prominent social scientists in the field of romantic relationships, John Gottman, that’s the ratio of positive to negative interactions in stable relationships. Couples were significantly less likely to get a divorce when they had about five positive interactions for every negative interaction they had.

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The secret to long-lasting relationships

What do the following have in common?
 

  • A “define the relationship” conversation with a crush
  • Mentioning to your roommate that you never check your Facebook messages
  • Telling your friend that the way he acts when he’s angry is scary to you
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Ashley KirsnerSkip the Small Talk, healthy relationships, relationships, relationship health, romantic relationships, platonic relationships, friends, friendships, how to make friends, how to have better relationships, better relationships, relationship, relationship advice, healthy relationship, deeper relationships, managing relationships, how to go deeper, going deeper, how to have a deep conversation, how to have a hard conversation, hard conversation, hard conversations, conversations, conversation, communication, communication problems, how to communicate, how to communicate better, communicating, communicate, communication skills, how to improve communication, having communication problems, metaconversation, metaconversations, meta-conversation, meta-conversations, skip the small talk, how to skip the small talk, learn how to skip the small talk, real talk, deep conversation, deep conversations, how to have deep conversations, how to talk about something hard, how to bring up something hard, how to bring up something hard to your boyfriend, how to bring up something hard to your girlfriend, romantic relationship, girlfriend, girlfriends, boyfriend, boyfriends, romantic partner, romantic partners, significant other, how to keep your girlfriend, how to keep your boyfriend, how to keep your significant other, long-lasting relationships, the secret to long-lasting relationships, how to have long-lasting relationships, how to make your relationship last, how to make your relationships last, how to make your relationships last foreverComment