What do I say? What will they think? What if I have nothing to say? How will I be treated? What if I say something wrong?
Although this day is about bringing the nation together to get talking and break the silence around mental health problems, it can be very hard for some, or even the last thing they want to talk about. Let's look at it like this for a moment.....time to "small" talk day.
Small talk. Easy to start, non judgemental and we can all do it. Right?
The first step to start a more meaningful conversation is the art of small talk. "I'm no good at that I hear you say?". Start by remembering where we live. Huh? Yes, where do we live? England. What is the favourite first thing that we all love to talk about? The weather. "It's chucking down out there". "'Tatoes today!". "I heard it might snow tomorrow". Try one out and you will be pleasantly surprised.
So there you have it, a chat has started. Whether or not it is in a group setting or 1-2-1 it is a nice way to start and allows for an easy reply. Often this leads to more comments about being in an air conditioned room or how glad we are to have an umbrella.
So what next?
The first thing is to remember you are not there to entertain everyone. In any given social or business conversation you will not please them all.....and guess what? That is OK! Small talk always continues apace when the ice has been broken (excuse the weather pun 😉) leading into... what are you up to today, sport, TV, films, meetings, projects etc?
I remember being part of a conversation recently about Love Island. I was standing there listening for ten minutes with nothing to add. I had seen about two minutes of an episode, two minutes too much for me, and had nothing to add and no gaps to change the course of the chat. So I waited patiently. Someone finally jumped in with a "have you seen 1917 yet?" Yes! I was in. Away I went with my own small talk minute of fame, before someone mentioned Midway and away they went.
Here we are mentioning films as the example, but you get the gist.
We tend to judge ourselves very harshly and often give too much importance to what everyone else is thinking or talking about. We start to think, "shall I binge watch the episode so I can join in?" No thanks!! ;-) We might start to realise time is flying past why we are standing there with nothing to say. We might start to blush or shift our feet. Then suddenly you hear someone mention your name or a great holiday they are looking forward to and you have your moment.
The key thing to remember, be patient and take the pressure off of yourself.
Would you call an electrician to fix your leaking tap? Or a plasterer to fix your car? No. You would get the right expert in for the job.
So why take the opinion of a novice when it comes to you? Why fear judgement? There is only one expert to listen to. Yourself! YOU are the expert on YOU.
When a conversation is in full swing and others are joining in, all of the
questions in the opening line fade away. We feel part of the group, we have added something of note and our judgement of ourselves has stopped. The emotionally charged part of our brain has begun to calm down and it is now easier for the logical part to begin to see things more clearly.
Mental health problems affect one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk about it. In fact, not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst bit. When people start with some small talk, feel comfortable and relaxed, they are not feeling judged or afraid. It can create a safe space and lead to further talking about their well-being and emotional state.
Why not send a message or text to get your small talk going?:
For more information on self esteem and judging yourself harshly, please see the blog below: