We have a new game in the house called “The Art of Conversation” (we have the children’s version). The game consists of a set of cards with 200 brilliant conversation builders that will engage the family. Here is a sample:

• What do you like about being you?
• What makes you angry or cross?
• “Save some money for a rainy day” what do you think this means?
• Where is a great place for a holiday and why?
• Have you ever played a trick on somebody?

The rules of the game are based on the ideas that you take one card, and a question is chosen, then one person answers that question, then the others – in order around the table – have the opportunity to ask questions of clarification, then another person answers the original question and you go around again.

The idea is that the family learns to talk, that they learn to listen which includes asking questions, but that they also learn to wait their turn and not monopolise the conversation.

We haven’t played according to the rules yet, and I’m not sure that we will. Though we do need to improve some of those conversation skills I think that it is a bit stilted and unnatural to have a conversation one by one around the table (especially with older children). So we are using the cards as conversation starters, keeping in mind the rules but it is a little more lively and conversation bounces back and forth.

I love what comes out of some of these questions, the opportunity to really talk as a family is great. Sunday morning we were talking about this game, and how it would fit and benefit our family and one of the girls asked Peter a very good question –

Dad, what makes you a good conversationalist?

His answer was:
• I’m genuinely interested in the person
• I’m genuinely interested in the world at large (which gives me connections with the world of the person I’m talking to)

Which lead onto, “What happens if the person is really, really boring?” Joshua quipped up and quoted “Only boring people get bored”. Which puts the responsibility straight on us when we struggle to find something to talk about with a person. We had good conversation, back and forth on this social dilemma.

So I’m really excited about this little box of cards – I expect it will just quietly sit in the kitchen, and as I prepare dinner I’ll find one question that I’ll put out there over dinner. I expect lively conversation but more importantly I expect we’ll learn more about each other, and we’ll learn to respect each other in conversation.

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