The Art Of Conversation
Being engaging in conversation is something that is taught, not caught.
It’s always noticeable when children take the initiative to ask questions, not just to answer them. But it’s something we might need to develop in them a little, as parents because very few children do it spontaneously.
And some adults never get the hang of it.
Have you been in a situation where you’re having a conversation with someone – perhaps at the school gates, maybe someone sitting next to you at an event or at a mutual friends – and you’ve asked all the questions you can think of and then nothing seems to come back you way? The other person just doesn’t seem to know how to ask questions.
Here’s the thing – Interested people are interesting people.
I’m sure children don’t run out of conversation with each other, but teaching them to hold conversation with adults is good training – and far more stimulating for grandparents and any adults that come to your home or who encounter your kids. So how do we encourage our children to be more than monosyllabic with their elders?
Like all things, quite simply it needs to be encouraged. We teach them to tie shoelaces and a train them in a multitude of ways, but there is definitely a lack of resourcing in the art of taking an interest in others, being a little bold and asking questions, yet it’s the crux of connectivity. We don’t need to relax into thinking that conversation with children can be a one way street.
So, it’s good to give them some pointers.
That could be when you’re on the way to someone’s home or when you’re expecting people to visit yours. Teaching children to have one question ready can prevent them feeling tongue tied. Once they begin to ask a question and find that the other party actually engages, it develops their confidence.
Conversation is an art and it needs practice.
One of the things that can be really helpful as kids get a bit older is to teach them to ‘ask the second question’ as a good friend of mine puts it.
So you might ask an adult – how’s your dog?
And they might answer, she had her vaccination last week.
And that’s the Q isn’t it for the second question
Did she mind it? Was the vet nice?
How often do you have to have one of those? Vaccination for what?
Then you’re off small talk and onto the real stuff.
I honestly think lots of adults could do with this tip.
Connection isn’t about doing all the talking; it’s engaging, listening, getting to know…
- And the best practice ground is grandparents, if you’re lucky enough to have some around. How many times do they come in the door, make all the conversation with the kids and then off they go to play or screen time?
A few years ago I was talking about family mission statements with a friend and then we got chatting about the fact that when her in-laws come around, the kids don’t give the grandparents much attention. The crunch point came for her when her mother-in-law asked her child what he’d like for his birthday and he said he wasn’t sure, but didn’t take his eyes off the screen. She had a good chat about it and she decided to use the idea of a mission statement but in a micro way. She sat down with the kids and used one of the questions from the mission statement list.
What sort of feeling do we want people to have when they visit our home?
They chatted about it together.
They talked about homes they like visiting and houses where they didn’t feel as comfortable.
They talked about what made the difference.
They realised that people taking an interest in you was part of the welcome.
So they came up with ideas about how to make people feel welcome and what to chat about with Granny and Grandpa when they came around.
This is a great move. It builds family culture, it builds awareness, it builds confidence.
It sparks interest.
Interested person; interesting person.
One way to make sure your child isn’t that adult sitting next to someone doing all the talking and not taking an interest is to invest in them whilst they’re small.
It's fantastic for their confidence