I was reading an article on LinkedIn by Jonathan Phelan a Wellbeing & Resilience author & speaker who was listening to a fascinating programme on Radio 4 about communication.
The interviewee reflected on how she trained police negotiators.
One point she made was particularly insightful.
When a police negotiator starts a hostage negotiation with “Can we talk?” the reaction is normally “no” and the phone call is abruptly disconnected.
Unlike normal life where we can move on from a difficult conversation, the police negotiator has to keep plugging away; sometimes for several hours.
After much analysis of what works, it turns out that “Can we speak?” is hugely more successful in starting a conversation and maintaining it.
No-one knows why. But apparently that’s what the data says.
Different approach to the same problem.
Who would have thought that a slight nudge in a conversation would have such a massive impact.
So, this got me thinking about parenting teenagers.
They can often put up a barrier between you as they strive for more independence & autonomy but what if you build a bridge of more open communication by simply asking a better question ?
‘Can we talk?’
Perhaps with a smile, a positive tone of voice & open body language you may just change the way you connect & it will help you keep the lines of communication going between you.
Look for simple ways to stay connected.
Over dinner, over a car journey, over a shopping trip or a school pick up.
Teenagers may act exasperated but beneath the bravado they long for & need connection with you.
The teenage years are full of self doubt, struggle, stress & fitting in as well as exploring, discovering & finding their feet.
Then don’t mess up the communication by negatively nagging – create the space for connecting with them by having that simple intention – to reach out.
Remember a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight !