When my children were in school, I would ask, “What did you learn in school today?” The answer was always the same–“nothing.” It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the art of communication, is just as much about asking the right questions, as it is about listening.
“A generic question usually gets a generic answer. But if you get specific, they’re much more likely to open up.”
We want our children and grandchildren to listen to us. But, there are some real steps that have to take place first. If you’re like me, I just never really thought much about it.
First, we have to ask the right questions. For example, instead of saying, “how was your day?” Try, “what was the best part of the day?” Or, “what was the worse part of the day?”
Here’s a good point to keep in mind as well.
“When you ask can be just as important as how you ask. Maybe your granddaughter needs to unwind a bit before she’s ready to talk. Or, maybe going out for a soda or for a walk will help get rid of busyness and distractions.” – Source
No kidding. I knew my granddaughter wanted to tell me something that was bothering her recently. It had weighed on her. But it really wasn’t a conversation for the phone. So I decided it was time for us to take a day trip. I planned a day at an art museum about an hour away. That gave us two hours total for our round trip and un-distracted conversation time. With me driving, she could talk to me candidly, without having to make eye-contact. Listening to her, for as long as she needed to talk was easy on the long stretch of highway. Brock Griffin writes
“With practice, grandparents, we can learn to probe beneath the details of where a child went, what he did, who he saw, and so on, and get to the real heart of what’s happening with your grandchild-his ideas and feelings about all of it.”
In-depth conversation isn’t always comfortable.
Many people would just as soon avoid hard conversations. But they lose the closeness that a heart to heart, with naked emotions, brings to a relationship.
When you are talking with a grandchild, it almost always will begin with the right questions. And maybe, even a series of questions. Then the hard part comes. When your grandchild tells you how he or she really feels. That’s when listening becomes a fine art.
Are you hearing frustration? Or is there fear? What about anxiety.
One of the human traits we carry with us from the Garden of Eden is that we want to hide when we have done something wrong.
And yet, the most important thing we can give our grandchildren, is the understanding that our love is unconditional. We are not here to judge them, but to help guide and often times–just listen.