Tips for How to Connect through Conversation
By Nadine Briggs
For the month of November, we are working with many of the kids/teens/young adults in our groups on how to truly connect to other people through conversation. Holiday time provides an opportunity for kids to spend time with extended family members. Grandparents enjoy reminiscing about the past and will likely welcome questions from their grandkids. It’s a great opportunity for kids to connect with others and understand more about their life experiences.
Here are 7 tips to try this month:
Pretend that there is a huge, focused, theater light on the person you are talking to so that you are solely focused on them and what they are telling you.
We show interest in others when they’re talking by leaning in, nodding, and asking follow up questions (even, and especially, if they aren’t interested in the answer).
Frame of Mind:
To get them in the right frame of mind, kids can pretend that they’re going to have to write a term paper for school with what they learn from the person they’re talking to or that they’re someone famous and the world needs to know about them. They need to be in the frame of mind that they are going to engage in what the other person says even if it’s boring or not relevant to them.
Ask the person they are talking to describe their holiday traditions in detail (grandparents love to talk about the past) and LISTEN. They could ask about their childhood friends – who did they hang out with and what did they play? How did they meet their spouse?
Delve Deeper into What You Already Know:
Think about something specific that they could ask more about in more detail. For example, when my daughter, Megan, and I visited by 90-year-old mom recently Megan asked her, “hey Gram, I heard that you were a model when you were younger, what was that like?” My mom loved thinking back when she modeled and telling Megan about it.
Follow Up Questions:
Ask as many follow up questions as you can – this requires truly listening and being engaged with what is being discussed. If it gets boring LISTEN HARDER. Follow could be as simple as “tell me more”.
Prepare for the Unexpected:
They should be prepared by knowing that not everyone has a Hallmark childhood. They should pre-think about how to react if the person they’re talking to has had a sad childhood. This is still connecting so they shouldn’t shy away. Literally lean in even more “how has that experience changed you” or “do you have traditions that are especially important because of your childhood”?
Having a Judgement Free Space is Key
These 7 tips can help kids to build connections within the family while also giving them practice on how to talk to people.
Simply Social Kids is a judgement free space to practice these skills. In our social skills groups, we had the participants practice this with each other and encouraged them to do this with parents, grandparents, anyone who they are comfortable being around and who will not judge them.
Conversation leads to connection – it’s a critical social skill.
If your child/teen/young adult needs coaching to help them make friends, contact us to schedule a trial https://calendly.com/simplysocialkids/30min or find out more about our weekly programs or Just for Fun clubs or learn more by contacting us at https://simplysocialkids.com/.