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Conversation Skills

Parents often assume that children develop conversation skills on their own as they mature. This doesn't always happen.

Although your teens are very comfortable around friends, such comfort doesn't develop easily when speaking with strangers. It always seems far too easy to run out of conversation, and often we too as adults find ourselves in situations where we are at a loss as to what to say next. It does sometimes seem to be a struggle to keep the conversation going. It is also not unusual to find people actively trying to improve their conversational skills by reading up on this subject or even joining classes.

While we learn how to converse with our friends naturally, we do need a certain degree of training to help us converse with strangers or in more formal situations. Here's how you can help your teen learn some basic conversation skills, so he leaves a good impression behind.

Eye Contact

Teach your teen to make eye contact when he is speaking with another person. If your eyes keep wandering when someone is speaking with you, it indicates a lack of interest. If you deliberately keep trying to avoid eye contact, it could show that you are feeling very self-conscious and lack confidence. Although you don't have to stare directly into the eyes of a person when you are speaking with them, you should in generally look at their face, and keep making eye contact regularly.


When your teen is introduced to someone, he should either fold his hands into a 'namaste' greeting, or he should hold out his hand and give the other person a firm handshake. The handshake should not be too limp or too strong. Help your teen perfect his handshake by practicing it with him.

Current Affairs

Encourage your child to read the newspaper every day from an early age itself, and to keep himself abreast of current affairs. When he matures into a teenager and finds himself in an increasing number of social situations, his knowledge of current affairs will enable him to converse on a number of topics.


Encourage your child to read books and novels. They don't have to be non-fiction. Even fictional books give your child an insight into various settings, cultures and countries. His vocabulary will improve, and this will make him a more confident conversationalist.


When someone asks a question, teach him to avoid single word answers like 'yes, no, okay…' This effectively shortens the conversation, and gives the other person nothing to base the next line of conversation on. Here is an example:

Maya: When did you return from Delhi?
Your teen: Yesterday.
Maya: Did you have a good holiday?
Your teen: Yes
Maya: It wasn't too cold, was it?
Your teen: No

Needless to say, this conversation is going nowhere. Pretty soon Maya will tire of trying to speak with your teen, and will soon find someone more interesting to speaking the evening with.

Here's another alternative:

Maya: When did you return from Delhi?
Your teen: I just got back last evening. I had an early morning flight, but it was delayed by more than 8 hours! The fog situation is really getting out of hand in Delhi…

The discussion can then very easily carry on to lax airport authorities, delays, fog technology that is available in many modernized nations but not in Delhi… and so on. Your child's knowledge of current affairs will come in use here.

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