Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Parenting Pointers: Conversation Starters from StoryWorth

The holidays are coming, and that takes families to all different parts of the country. Conversations are bound to turn political this year in the divided USA and we have a few solutions to help avoid that.

Nick Baum is CEO of StoryWorth, a website/mobile app that curates weekly questions for your family to get cherished memories/stories; then after a year creates a beautiful hardcover book with all the stories within as a keepsake for the family for one low yearly price of $79.00. He shares tips for etiquette around the dinner table, icebreakers to help get conversation flowing, as well as tips on how to get a good story out of someone (hint: don't ask yes or no questions!) 
  • For a good icebreaker, you can play the family name game of going back through the decades of your family's first and last name history or ask questions that are likely to have a fun answer. For example: "Have you ever pulled or been one the receiving end of a great prank?" or "What is the one of the most ridiculous things that has ever happened to you?"
Questions to ask to learn stories; not talk about politics:
  • If you want to change the conversation away from politics, you can ask questions about history more broadly. For example, "How has the world changed during your lifetime?", "What inventions have had the most impact on your life?", or "If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?".
How to get the stories out of your relatives etc.
  • Often times, all it takes to get someone started is something simple and open-ended. Avoid yes or no questions, instead ask questions that involve a longer answer. Instead of "Did you like high school?" ask "What were your friends like in high school?".  Another good tip for getting stories is to ask relatives about their life advice – what's your best advice when it comes to work? relationships? raising children? Each of these should make for interesting conversation and inspire lots of follow up questions.
Etiquette Around the Holiday Table/Family Gathering:
  • If you know someone is political in your family, politely remind them before inviting or right before everyone arrives to not discuss politics or religion.  If you see the topic come up, change the subject with one of the above icebreakers or questions.
  • 90% of conversations with politics, religion or personal family matters go downhill at a holiday function--these above ideas are to stem away from topics that could cause drama or fights.
  • Remember you can be the source too---don't bring up these topics and you will be all set this holiday season.
  • ​Lastly, limit alcohol!!​

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