Handle awkward date silences, end a dialogue with a stranger plus chat to your children, your parents and your boss. Our panel shares their secrets
How to talk to children and adolescents, by household therapist Karen Holford
Children often dont have the words to say what theyre impression, and they dont always understand what were go looking for when we asking questions questions. So if you ask, How was your day? and youre met with a grunt or a shrug, its not because your child is trying to hide something from you. Its since they are dont find why you could possibly want to know, or which part of their day youre interested in. It can help to build your questions more specific: What was the best thing about your day? What was the hardest thing? And, of course, it helps if you are really listening. We often dont give children our full attention.
Try to meet your childs emotions, rather than telling them how to feeling. If your child comes home saying, I detest everyone in my class, your first reaction might be, Thats not a nice thing to say, or, Things cant be that bad. Try to pay attention to the feeling rather than the content. Help them find other terms to draw out their feelings It sounds like you had a really bad day so they can talk about it in a different way.
With younger children, visual cues and games can be a helpful way of piecing things together. If youre trying to find out who they play with at school, you might get them to draw a picture of their friends, say. Recurring back to a younger child what they have said makes them feel heard. And if youre talking about difficult topics, transgress them down into manageable chunks.
Teenagers often respond better if youre doing something alongside a conversation, so they dont have to give you a lot of eye contact, even if its only cleaning up or talking when youre in the car. Employing a little bit of humour can help to defuse the tension, and watching films with older kids can be a good way to broach difficult subjects.
Tips Use visual workouts with younger children to help them explain whats going on. Respect the importance of what theyre talking about; avoid saying, Its only a silly worry. Model good ways for communication with other adults. Let children see you argue and make up.
Most of us find the prospect of strolling into a room full of strangers daunting. Instead of reasoning, Who will I have to talk to tonight? say to yourself, I wonder who Im going to get to meet tonight.
Theres a phrase I like to use: The roof is an introduction, which means that if youre in the same place, you always have one thing in common. Remember that most people in any room feel uncomfortable. If we can be aware of that, and think, What can I do to stimulate other people feel comfy with me? thats not just a great strategy for socialising its a kindness.
I often borrows tales. Im not a dog person, but if someone else wants to talk about dogs, thats penalty. I just mention something my friend Jim were talking about his dogs. I dont feign its my story, but just mentioning that I have a friend who loves puppies helps us to relate.
The number one question people ask me is, How do I exit a conversation? And its a good point: youre not there to monopolise person or persons all night long. If the other person is getting a little squirmy, theyre ready to move on. Interrupt yourself , not them: Its been so nice talking to you. I so enjoyed talking about and there you can let them know youve been listening to what theyre saying. Then dont only turn your back on them its too abrupt. Instead, stroll a quarter-length of the room away to another group or, better still, to person standing alone.
Tips Ask people how they know the host, or how they got there, or what they think of the food( just about everyone likes talking about food ). Watch out for conversation-killers, especially one-upmanship. If person says they just lost 10 lb, dont tell them how you lost 20. Borrow narratives . If you dont have children but youre talking to a new parent, can you share an anecdote that a friend has told you?