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  • Writer's pictureAlpana Shitolé

Effective Conversation Techniques For Teens For A Memorable Holiday

As the holiday season of togetherness dawns upon us, it's a great time to reflect on and strengthen our children’s communication skills so they can connect meaningfully with friends and family.

This article talks about how to enable teens to bolster their connections by using techniques of an effective conversation maker.


Strengthening Bonds in Good Times and Bad

There is a prevailing belief that the strength of relationships is determined during difficult times. This is with a doubt an important measure of any relationship. However, it overshadows an equally important aspect of a relationship, which is how present are we for our loved ones during their moments of joy and achievement? This facet is often overlooked but holds immense significance in strengthening relationships.


The Research Perspective

Dr. Shelly Gable’s research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reveals four styles of responding when someone shares a positive experience. Remarkably, only one of these styles strengthens relationships, while the others can inadvertently weaken them over time.

The Four Listening Styles

  1. The Conversation Killer – This response involves unintentionally changing the topic, leading to a conversation that just fizzles out.

  2. The Conversation Hijacker – This occurs when the listener redirects the focus of the conversation to themselves, overshadowing the speaker’s experience.

  3. The Conversation Deflater – This response minimizes the speaker’s experience or achievement.

  4. The Conversation Maker - This response involves listening actively and asking follow-up questions to dive deeper into the topic and share the experience.

The first three listening styles stem not from ill intentions, but often from a well-meaning place of excitement or protective instincts. As such, the listener may not be actively trying to kill of hijack as conversation. However, recognizing these tendencies is the first step towards becoming an active listener.

A conversation maker does more than just listen to the words; they engage with and validate the speaker's feelings and experiences. They concentrate completely on what is being said, try to understand the emotions and intentions behind the words, and experience these emotions along with the speaker.


For parents, teaching and modeling active listening can greatly improve their relationship with their teenagers and empower these young adults to apply these skills in their own interactions. When engaging with your teens, be aware of the conversation style you are adopting and steer yourselves towards being a conversation maker. I know from personal experience that this is not an easy task but nobody said parenting is easy! :)

Rest assured that this will bear fruit in time.

I am immensely proud to share these inspiring testimonials from my students who have embraced these lessons and experienced profound personal growth:

“I connected with over 60 people at my mom’s networking event! It was unbelievable. I did not know I could also connect with grownups using these skills. It felt amazing!” - Student, 12

“I've learned that people often have a lot more in common with you than you think. You just need to initiate the conversation and listen." - Student, 13

These reflections demonstrate the transformative power of active listening, not only in strengthening relationships but also in fostering a sense of confidence in different social contexts.

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