Track Talk W7

You Don’t Talk About THAT at Work

Sophie Küster

12:00-12:45 CEST Wednesday 8th June

There are things you don’t talk about with your colleagues – even less so with your boss. Mental health issues are certainly a big no-no. When I first started working as an agile tester, I kept my history with mental illness secret. As a result, I couldn’t speak openly about topics that are close to my heart: mental health and self-care. In the Agile World however, we value respect, courage, and openness. How do you reconcile this with these taboos? Can you really be courageous and open if you deny a part of yourself?

When I attended my first ever testing conference, I was in awe about the openness with which psychological topics were discussed. Inspired, and with a head still spinning from the experience (and a serious lack of sleep), I came clean to my boss on the very first day upon returning. From then on, I wore my heart on my sleeve.

And my life at the office began to change: Once I had started speaking up, openness came easier with every new issue. I would suddenly talk about my experiences with sickness and therapy as well as being more comfortable with sharing my thoughts and feelings about day-to-day business and goings-on at work. Conversely, people started confiding in me, asking me for advice and talking to me in a whole new way.

In this talk, I would like to share what I have learned from breaking taboos. I will discuss how communication improved for me, which obstacles I bumped into, and why I will still not shut up about the things you don’t talk about at work.