Teens today have grown up with electronic messaging in various forms. The thought of picking up a phone and calling someone is a mortifying thought for them. In-person conversations can leave them at a loss for what to say or awkwardly stumbling over their words. They can become so anxious that their minds are concentrating on what to say next rather than listening to the other person.
A common conversation complaint that we hear is that teens will try to talk in a peer group but no one listens. Here are some tips to be heard.
- Make sure that your body is near the group. I have seen many teenagers try to talk to a group but they are a few feet away from the group. They need to be facing the person or people they’re trying to talk to.
- Make sure you show interest in the conversation even when you’re not talking. By nodding and leaning in and smiling if appropriate. Saying things like “seriously?” “No way” or “wow” are ways to show you’re listening in a group of teens. Your tone of voice needs to sound “light” and incredulous and not serious.
- Stay on topic. Others are more likely to listen if you are contributing to the topic they are speaking about rather than trying to change it to a new topic.
- Try to gain their attention before you start talking with some attention-getting types of openers such as, “hey guys check this out… “, “Hey listen to this… “, “OMG you’re not gonna believe this… “, “hey did you hear…”.
- Never ever try to gain attention by saying something shocking. The group is not likely to believe you if you say something outrageous and you’re likely to make them uncomfortable.
- Don’t lie or make up stuff to be cool. Just be you.
- If someone says something funny and everyone laughs, you can laugh too. Do not try to add onto the joke to make the laugh last longer. If they’re laughing at someone in a mean spirited way, don’t contribute.
- Filter your thoughts. Some people speak every thought that pops into their heads. Trust us, no one wants to hear everything that you think. Pre-think what you’re about to say based on the people you’re with then decide if you should say it. You can even have practice conversations with a mirror or stuffed animal. Practicing Mindfulness can help with the impulse to tell all.
- Raunchy talk should be spoken only with really close friends of the same gender.
- Resist over sharing. A group of teens does not need to know very personal information about yourself or gossip about other peers or family.
If you are continuously not being listened to in a peer group or if they constantly talk over you, then they might not be your people. You might need to find a new group who are more accepting of you.