HOW WAS YOUR DAY? The moment we ask this question, we inadvertently dive into a very deep pool of regret! Why? Because the response is unsurprisingly similar to other unenthusiastic and monotone responses we’ve received when asking ‘that’ question in the past. But the bottom line is, we absolutely do want to know how our teenager’s day was, of course we do. So here’s a few alternative questions to help you find out more.
The key is to make questions really good quality. What does this mean you ask? When we are talking with teens, a good quality question has three parts that prove to be helpful in opening dialogue and keeping conversation real and more free flowing.
GOOD QUALITY QUESTIONS are –
Void of WHY. Teenagers are quite sensistive to this tiny word, because they’ve often been conditioned to think this word calls for them to explain them selves or their actions. ‘WHY’ often triggers a defensive reaction and may contribute to communication cracks, so it’s best we use it sparingly.
Intended to connect and lean in to what’s going on in your teenager’s life. Questions may look and sound like this- ~ I know Thursday is your back-to-back day. You look exhausted, how did you go getting through it all with out a break? ~ I was thinking of you at 11.30 when you were starting your math test. Was it what you expected or were there some curve balls in there? ~ What were you thinking when …….? ~ How was the assembly this morning? I remember you saying it was really cramped last time. Did you manage to have enough space to stretch your legs?
Open and inviting, loose and relaxed. ~ Questions which are open, cleverly leave little room for closed YES or NO responses. Rather, they invite chit chat and free flow conversation, placing less emphasis on correct or incorrect answers. This is a handy tip as it helps nurture relationships and takes the pressure off possible conversation performance anxiety, which can cause emotional shut-down and loss of conversation confidence. ~ Questions which are loose and more relaxed, are more slowly paced so there is time to pause to be reflective in thought, which can organically squeeze out any demand for instant answers, which can ass pressure and bring conversations and connection to a screaching halt. Being especially mindful of this when we’re talking to teenagers after – school, training, camp, an interview, test or catch up with their mates, will pay dividends.
Changing and tweaking our question style takes time, patience, practice and of course there will be some mishaps along the way. As we practice, we usually start to notice slight shifts in the way we talk with our teens and hopefully as a result, our conversations become more rich. It’s most definitely worth experimenting with as it helps everyone to ROC and rise, as we should!
Enjoy creating quality questions and making better connections with your teens and each other. You’ve got this!
This idea is shared with teens in Claire’s book ROC and RISE. Endorsed by Maggie Dent and loved by teenagers and their families worldwide.
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