WISETALKERS: WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO………?
In our daily lives, we all come across situations and conversations which feel awkward or uncomfortable. These can be really important moments. How we handle them has the power to affect our relationships, someone’s outlook and sometimes their life.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? When someone is angry, upset or distressed have you ever avoided the conversation; perhaps not knowing what to do or say, not having the time or thinking they should “get a grip”? Maybe you tried to help but came away wondering why it went badly? If you feel it went well, would they agree? Could you do it better?
30 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO BENEFIT YOU AND THOSE AROUND YOU. Drawing on validated approaches this brief, practical training will allow you to understand more about these interactions and develop your existing skills, helping these conversations go better in all parts of your life- family, social, work. Included are links to more information and where to find help if needed. It works with all age groups, young and old.
DO THE FREE WISETALKERS COURSE by registering at https://www.openlearning.com/courses/wisetalkers, (from a laptop or PC, register and verify your email address then go back to the course URL). Alternatively you can download the content here without the active links or media.
Encourage your friends to take the course too. We all need WISETALKERS around us.
Below is a brief WISETALKERS summary. The full toolkit provides explanations, practical tips on what to say and do and a guide to key services.
What is WISETALKERS ?
WISETALKERS is an acronym to help you remember the key ways to encourage good communication.
WISE is about being prepared; managing yourself and the situation so you get the best possible outcome from a conversation. TALKERS provides practical tips for the conversation.
Wellbeing, Individuality, Signs of Distress, Environment,
Tune-In, Ask, Listen actively without judgement, Keep calm, Empower, Respond, Selfcare.
- Wisetalkers provides a practical guide to reducing common barriers to good two-way communication. The knowledge and skills introduced are useful in day to day family, social and work settings by helping to promote respectful, supportive relationships.
- Wisetalkers is designed to increase the confidence to open a conversation with someone who is struggling with what is happening in their life, by providing tips on how to prepare.
- Wisetalkers introduces ways in which to encourage open and honest communication about thoughts and feelings, identifies some appropriate responses and where to direct people if more help is needed.
- Wisetalkers works on the principle that everyone can offer support in some form; you don’t need to be an expert. It won’t turn you into a trained counselor and is not a replacement for professional help when this is needed.
Why do we need WISETALKERS ?
We all face challenges in our lives and sometimes it can be really hard to deal with them. Some people seem to be naturally better at bouncing back but they will also struggle sometimes. When we find it hard to cope it affects our mental health. If these issues go unresolved, over time mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may develop.
Good relationships are key to everyone’s wellbeing. People need to feel connected and part of things. The more good relationships we have, the wider and stronger our support network, creating more opportunities for help when things aren’t going well. We are all able to make someone’s day better; little things- kindness, a smile, showing interest, helping them see good things about themselves, being a good friend. We can all do these things but in today’s busy world it doesn’t always happen automatically.
Few people like having difficult conversations. If someone seems distressed we may think we don’t know how to help and that what we say may make things worse. Often the worst thing is to ignore or minimise what someone is feeling. People need to have their feelings acknowledged, feel heard and valued and that there is hope. Starting the conversation takes no special skills, only the confidence to face the situation. You don’t need to have answers. Just acknowledging the problem may be enough to help that person. This may be a crucial time for them, affecting their future decisions. Don’t leave the conversation for someone else.
WISETALKERS starts to address these issues by demonstrating how to reduce some of the barriers to good communication. It is hoped that the adoption of WISETALKERS principles will broaden and strengthen community support networks by improving early interactions with family, friends and peers. Early effective support and appropriate signposting may in some cases prevent the development of more long lasting mental ill health or, where further help is needed, improve outcomes.
WISETALKERS and suicide prevention
WISETALKERS was developed because some people go on to take their own lives. There is very little evidence to suggest that this group is easily identifiable beforehand. Often those bereaved have never even considered suicide might be a possibility. Many who die by suicide have no diagnosed mental health condition, are unknown to mental health services and have not seen their GP in the 12 months before their death. Looking back from the point of suicide it may seem that the path that led there is obvious. There is not the same clarity when looking forward. When viewed from the starting point there are many possible outcomes to each interaction, the vast majority of which do not lead to suicide.
All suicides are potentially preventable but how do we help people when it is so hard to identify those at risk? The answer is to improve the support given to everyone, in the many everyday interactions with those around them.
There are many points in a person’s life where there is an opportunity to change the outcome; interactions or events that can take us further along the path or divert us from it. Individually these may seem insignificant (which may be why they are so often not appreciated at the time) but repeated, apparently minor negative reinforcements may lead to towards suicide risk, not just significant events. The more people are able to pick up early signs of distress and provide early effective support, the better the chance of altering the outcome.
Credit card sized memory joggers
We have put together a WISETALKERS summary, along with how to Respond and Key Sheffield Services info, into a credit card sized folding leaflet to fit into wallets/purses. If you would like to reproduce this, either in Sheffield or elsewhere, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to tweak the Key Services information for other cities and share the format for free!
Get as many other people as you can on board with WISETALKERS. Kindness, mutual respect and support- what’s not to like? You may never know whether your apparently minor, insignificant support changed the course of someone’s life for the better. Just do it.
We all need WISETALKERS around us.