For my second outing with Will, to my immense relief, no gym kit was required! Instead my task was to help Will do his homework on a sunny Saturday afternoon - a much less strenuous task!
As I walked to Laguna, I questioned how much help I would actually be to Will. His conversation skills seem to be in a whole different league to mine! Any help I could offer in that department would be limited. However, upon seeing Will, he told me his plan for the day and my job became clear. He had seven different tasks which he needed to complete, all of which involved talking to strangers (no surprise there!) and engaging them in conversation.
However, he didn’t appear to be daunted at all by these tasks (unlike how I would be!) and sat opposite me at ease, with a big grin on his face. My task was to watch the reactions of those he interacted with and help him fill in his task sheet. Ready for the challenges ahead of us, Will decided we would need a clip board first (being very official!) for filling in the task forms.
The city of Cardiff was full with Christmas shoppers, the beautiful weather only attracting more people out to enjoy the crisp, clear day. This was perfect for Will – there was plenty of opportunities for him to interact with other people. Never one to miss an opportunity, Will saw a woman sitting on her own on a bench as we walked past. He steered us back and took a seat next to her. Before long the two of them were laughing and engaged in a full-blown conversation – I don’t know how he does it! I watched in awe.
Will walked away confidently, and we started filling in the sheet for his first task. He told me that it’s important to start noticing other people on the street; if they are wearing a particularly unique or interesting item of clothing. Whether they seem preoccupied with their own thoughts or particularly happy. This was what made him decide to take a seat next to the woman; he saw her preoccupied in her thoughts and used this to help him start the conversation. Will encouraged me to do the same on our journey to the museum, where we decided we would complete the rest of the tasks. It was really interesting; the more you looked, the more you saw. I began to notice all sorts of things about people.
The museum in Cardiff is beautiful. It was made even more special by the brass band playing Christmas carols, and the huge Christmas tree stood in the corner. Will and I took a seat in front of the band, looking for someone to have a conversation with, when a family sat down in front of us. Will struck up a conversation with them and happily chatted with them for a while, discussing all sorts of things! I was so impressed; Will can handle a conversation really well (I’m pretty sure he is much better at it than I am!). However, once it had ended, Will evaluated it and thought about what he could have improved on or would change for next time. I found that part really interesting, as that is something I don’t usually do. It would never occur to me to do that, but it helps focus your mind on what you could do next time which ultimately helps improve your communication skills.
We moved on afterwards and walked around the museum, Will stopping every now and again to complete the next task by engaging with other people. We met all sorts of people; some were in Wales trying to improve their English and another had a particular interest in space. I really enjoyed meeting everyone! We completed all of Will’s tasks with ease and I thought he handled all of the conversations well and with confidence. He can approach anyone!
My afternoon with Will taught me a lot about the power of conversation. It’s helped me to be more observant as I walk around in town so I can find things to use to start a conversation with someone. I have also learnt a lot from Will about how he strikes up a conversation with others, which has given me more confidence about starting my own conversation with someone (I will get there one day!). The trip to the museum has also taught me that talking to a stranger can let you both walk away feeling happier. All of the people that Will spoke to had smiles on their faces and laughed during the conversation and Will always walked away smiling too. Talking to someone that you see on the street can improve their day and it doesn’t take much. Will does it all the time, and one day I will too!