Are you nervous about interacting with women and gender nonconforming folks these days? That’s understandable; if you know at least 33 men, 6 women, or 2 nonbinary folks, statistically speaking, you probably know a survivor of sexual assault, whether they’ve disclosed it to you or not. And it can be tricky to know how to interact with someone who’s gone through such a horrendous experience (or who is likelier than you to go through such a horrendous experience) that you might not be able to fully empathize with. How can you help them feel safe with you, and how can you support the people in your life who fear sexual assault without overstepping their boundaries? Here are some resources to help you navigate just that. There is no one right answer to how to be there for others, but we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback about these articles. We hope you or someone you care about finds them helpful.Read More
Mr. Rogers was the dad America needed. The biographical movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor does an incredible job of showing us why. Whether you saw the movie and want some help processing or whether you didn’t see it but still want some takeaways, enjoy these three big life lessons via the sweatered socioemotional powerhouse, himself.Read More
We’ve gotten a lot of requests for this one.
They often sound something like: “I’m a good communicator, but it’s just that my coworker/ roommate/ mom/ boyfriend’s second cousin is awful at communication.”
But no matter how horrible of a communicator they are, you can use this trick to work within their limited communication skills and get your point across.
Mother’s Day can be a great excuse to connect with a woman who helped raise you. Of course, everyone has a different relationship with their mother (we’d love to take this opportunity to remind you of our article on metaconversations in case you think it’d be helpful to tweak something in your relationship with your mom), but for those of you who want to take the chance to get closer to the matriarch in your life, we’ve put together some questions to help create meaningful conversations that you might not have had with her before. Feel free to pick and choose the questions that feel right-- we recommend going with your intuition about what questions would work best for the kind of relationship you have with your mom.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
“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.
“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.
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:Read More
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.Read More
“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.)
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.Read More
“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.
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.
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More