Celeste Headlee, who has worked as an NPR and Public Radio host for decades, knows the ingredients of a great conversation: honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. Author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (2017), Headlee notes that most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, but rather to reply — a dynamic that is clearly evident in many dysfunctional relationships.
In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High (2013), authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler observe how easily our eons-old defense mechanisms kick in, when we match an inappropriate or sharp comment, accusation or unkind shot with our own hasty, ugly reaction. With absolutely no clue as to what is going on in our partner’s head, the opportunity for understanding and connection is missed.
When all is said and done, we earn our teenagers’ trust by showing them we trust them, by being respectful, and by sharing power. Adolescents (and all children for that matter) who feel their parents are really interested in their world, feelings and experiences, are more likely to be open to learning from them.