Sometimes eating with family can feel like sitting with strangers, unfortunately. It can be difficult to talk to the very people you live with–especially teenagers who think they know everything ????. But, don’t fret because we’re coming to the rescue with some family table talk tips to keep the conversation flowing.
Walt Whitman has a famous quote that says: “Be curious, not judgemental.” And, what that means is many times we look at a person or situation from the outside without context and we tend to be quick to judge a person or their actions. However, when we’re curious and ask questions, we learn why a thing is the way it is or why a person is a way they are. Asking curious questions removes the sting of your preset judgment. This is especially true with your spouse, children, and loved ones.
We encourage you to ask open-ended questions and pose discussion topics, without judgment, that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Things like: How do you like the new ______? Or, tell me about something interesting that happened in your day.
These conversation starters are sure to open up the dialogue with your crew.
Listen, Not Lecture
Of course, no one likes being “talked at” because that’s a one-sided conversation that doesn’t allow other people to be genuine in the conversation. In fact, talking at someone actually sparks tension and strife and causes him/her to respond with negative energy that doesn’t facilitate a healthy convo. So next time you’re at the dinner or breakfast table and you feel the need to react to a situation that you feel angst about, take your time to respond to them in a positive way. And, practice active listening to make that person feel heard. Hear your family out and respond well with the intention to understand them instead of projecting your thoughts.
The most basic need of every human is the need to be heard and seen. Because let’s face it: humans are very selfish and we want to know people care about what we care about.
When it comes to your family, be thoughtful by asking them about the things that matter to them. This is a sure-fire way to gain brownie points with your spouse/partner and cool points with your kids.
You can say things like: you’re really getting good at ______. Tell me more about that.
Ask about their hobbies and talk about the things they enjoy. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll open up to you and be more willing to have a two-way dialogue. Look for ways to compliment, encourage and uplift one another.
These 3 simple tips for family engagement are guaranteed to get rid of the awkward silence and lead to some very interesting dialogues. Keep in mind that time spent around the table should always be a safe space to share, learn and grow together while enjoying good food and making family memories.