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Mar 4, 2013

Conversational Competence

MaryAnn Gaver

Let's say that you're in a tennis game, positioned near the baseline (39 feet from the net) of the single's court.  The ball's spinning over the net toward you -- a cross-court groundstroke.  Instinctively, you position your racket back to prepare for a forehand. You swing low to high, and end with your bicep near your chin. Good shot! 

Now the ball is returned with topspin -- this time to your backhand. You turn your shoulder, pivot your feet, and change your grip slightly. As if to pull a sword from its sheath, you prepare to hit deep into the opponent's court. That will put you in a strategic position to move to the net for a final shot and win the set...

Conversation is just like that tennis game, except that no one is trying to win. The point is that it takes two people to keep the ball in motion. You hit; I hit.  I serve; you receive. The whole idea is to keep that ball moving. Different shots, styles and angles.

Here are six simple things to teach our kids about face to face conversation. Plus, they're good reminders for us!

       >> Make eye contact.

       >> Turn off any hand held devices (teenagers and parents).

       >> Ask questions.

       >> Listen to what the other person is saying. Think, then respond.  

       >> Remind the kids that shyness is not a virtue.   

       >> Be friendly when you run into someone you know -- say hello, smile and speak to people.  

These things are so basic, yet often easy to forget. It's okay to tell our kids that we're working on these fundamental things too. So, don't be afraid to let your family know that you're taking strides to improve as well.  

Back to the tennis analogy -- remind the kids not to let the ball just sit there on the ground.   Keep the conversation going. Once the other person has spoken -- the ball's now in their court!

Have a wonderful day!

love, MaryAnn   

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