In one of my education classes in college we had a few Chatty Cathy's. They dominated the discussion; no matter what the topic was, no one else could get a word in.
I may have been one of them.
I have a lot of words I need to use in a day.
My professor used a brilliant trick to help the Talkers to zip it and the Observers share. As we walked into class she handed us each 3 poker chips. Every time we participated in the discussion we turned in one chip. We were expected to use all of our chips in the hour. So smart.
She did no shaming or lecturing or rolling eyes while sighing. She just positively taught us what she expected.
It may have been a bit contrived for college students but it worked. And it stuck with me.
My kids are not what you'd call great conversationalists. We've struggled with appropriate dinner talk around here for, well, forever.
Mostly we hear long stories of Minecraft conquests.
But not a whole lot of questions and then listening.
We just did the funnest, easiest thing and not only did it bring great questions and then answers but we all had a blast.
Best part? Takes zero planning.
Just give each person at the table (adults too!) 3 poker chips or 3 chocolate chips or 3 strips of paper or 3 lego pieces or whatever.
Dinner Convo Rules:
1) Each chip = 1 question you ask anyone at the table.
2) "How was your day?" does NOT count. Get creative!
3) When you ask your question put your chip back in the jar (or eat the chocolate chip- I think I like this chocolate idea...)
4) You can't use 2 tokens back to back- give someone else a turn first.
5) You can't ask the same question twice.
6) After you ask the question, LISTEN to the answer.
We had some interesting questions, from "What subject would you drop from your school day and why?" to "What time period would you travel to and why?"
Try it. You can thank me later, after your Minecraft-Free Dinner.