Talking to strangers can be difficult, especially when they’re different than us, but sometimes talking to people we know can be difficult too (e.g., talking about death and dying, talking about physical or mental illness). I’m just starting my research in this area, so this is an initial list of resources that is sure to grow. If you have suggestions for further resources I should list (or any links are broken), please email me. If you find these helpful, let me know – I’d love to hear from you!
Talking about death and dying
- “Dying Well”: a series of TED talks about death and dying
- Farewell Badger: a story about a book that is appropriate for bereaved children
- “A letter to the kind stranger who shared her grief with me”: A talking to strangers moment of connection after a miscarriage
- At death cafes all over the world, people “drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death”
Talking to someone with a physical or mental illness
- “A cancer survivor designs the cards she wishes she’d received from friends and family”: An article about empathy cards, by Emily McDowell. Reading about these cards triggered my thinking about difficult conversations, and my interest in studying how they were similar to/different from conversations with strangers. She also illustrated a book called There is no good card for this, which she wrote with Kelsey Crowe, an empathy researcher and founder of Help Each Other Out.
- “What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party“: Kate Bowler, a young woman with cancer, muses on the unhelpful things that people say to her, and what to say instead
- Tips from Macmillan Cancer Support on how to talk about cancer.
- Do’s and dont’s for conversations with someone who suffers from depression, from Hope for Depression, and from a writer who’s “been there”
- A list of “backhanded ‘compliments‘” to avoid when talking to someone with a mental illness
Talking to someone different than you
- 15 things not to say to disabled people, Part 1 and Part 2
- Scope (a disability equality charity) embraced humour in their End the Awkward campaign
- “We all talk, but we don’t really know how”: An interview with Elizabeth Stokoe, a researcher who studies the content of conversations
- “How to be a Friend in Deed”, a New York Times article about how to help a friend who’s suffering
- “What to say when you don’t know what to say”: An article about a research study examining social support.
- TED talk “What people say when they don’t know what to say”, by Adrianne Haslet-Davis, one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing
- Sussed card games are designed to help get people talking. My husband and I had fun playing the “who knows who best” game on our roadtrip holiday, and it sparked some interesting conversations. Sussed supports Time to Change, which aims to get people talking about mental health. We’re hoping to collaborate on a research study in the near future – watch this space…