Last week I was with a group of 11 year olds in a ‘Communication Skills for Life’ workshop. We were focusing on a technique we call ‘Doing a Hairy Granny’. It’s a simple three part structure to empower children to have better conversations with adults (hairy or not) in response to those killer questions such as how’s school, how was your day, did you have a good weekend???????. It comprises:
- The headline eg school’s really great this term, thank you
- Additional information with something from the heart eg we’ve started Latin this term which I thought was going to be boring but it turns out to be really fun. I love all the stuff about the Roman emperors
- A question eg did you do Latin at school, what was your favourite subject, do you remember those Roman emperors (joke)???????
The children shared their experiences of trying out the ‘Hairy Granny’ technique. One girl told of a conversation with her grandmother on the ‘phone and how, after the call, the granny had gone skipping into the kitchen. The grandfather asked about the cause of the joyful skipping and learned that it was the ‘phone call; the pure pleasure of conversing with her grandchild. But it was also about feeling valued; being made to feel that her opinion/experience was important. It was the simple act of asking a question which had had such an impact.
So, whether we’re in the company of aged relatives, young neighbours, shy in-laws or awkward teenagers this Christmas, why don’t we all give the gift of curiosity and ask them a question?