Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people. ~Jim Rohn
Talking to Kyle yesterday on the phone, made me realize something, the kid has no verbal communication skills, at least not on the phone. I know this is no revelation, but worth noting and addressing. After all he is my pre-teen and has to learn to proper communication.
Face-to-face, Kyle is not a shy person, not in the slightest. He has no qualms asking for assistance in stores or asking anyone, for anything to get what he wants at any time.
When family members or any adult figure speaks directly to him, asking about school or Christmas or some general topic of conversation, he usually just spouts out, ‘Good’ or something very brief, to the point and simple, with maybe a head nod. I get that, he’s a kid and really doesn’t want to be participating in the conversation where he has no vested interest. For when he does have a stake to the claim, he can rule the words to make himself and his purpose known. So I never would peg Kyle as needing direction when speaking on the phone. But it’s true!
Keep in mind we are too used to Kyle, and take him for who he is, which every child should be accepted! But what I’m talking about, is coaching and assisting him throughout his journey of life, making him a better person for whatever his future endeavors might be. Plus, let’s not forget sometimes his cryptic sentences drive me crazy! This kid is twelve years old and his communication skills need to grow and mature with him.
Now back to the matter at hand, yesterday’s conversation. I called him to see what he was doing, if he practiced his piano, how school was, you know the standard run of the mill questions. Kyle initially said “Hi”. Good we are off to a great start. We might need to work on his influction and ease of his voice, but nevertheless, good. Then after starting my conversation, trying to prompt some response from him, Kyle just said, “Ya, can you get me Saturday?” As if he could care less about the questions and dismissed me, completely! Immediately I retorted, “That’s great buddy, but how about ‘Hi Aunt Heather school was good. I still have to practice my piano. So I was thinking, would you mind picking me up on Saturday?'” As I reiterated a ‘normal’ conversation back to him he just made an ‘ok’ noise and was pretty dismissive as usual.
Then I said, “Kyle you are going to have to work on your verbal communication skills. No more it’s all about you and what you want. You need to participate in a nice conversation, Not one where I have to solve a riddle to understand it.” Then, all I heard was “Ok” with a little chuckle. He’s a smart kid, he knows what I’m talking about.
I don’t get it, I really don’t? Is it generational? Is it his personality? Is it just with my family? Is it maturity? Whatever it is, I don’t give a flying fig. He is going to learn to correct his poor communication skills. Kyle cannot think he can walk around speaking to people with only his agenda on his mind and a cryptic one at best. Nope, not no my watch!
Seriously, he wasn’t always like that. Or was he? All I remember is this little two year old, who was just learning to speak (after getting his ears checked and the problems temporarily fixed) sitting in the backseat of my car, talking into his Finding Nemo toy phone. He loved that thing. I got it for him because he expressed an interest in phones, usually he had his eye on mine. So I told him he could have one of his own that had lights and made noises.
One day we were driving and he was talking. I mean carrying on a conversation. I said, “Hey buddy who are you talking to?” He said, talking into the phone as a real person was on the other end, “Hang on, Aunt Heather is talking to me.” What? Then he replied, “I’m talking to Aunt Nitti, what you want?” Too cute! All I could do was feel embarrassed I interrupted him and said, “O, sorry buddy, tell her I said hi and to call me later.” That little munchkin turned back into the phone and said, “Ok, I’m back, Aiya said ‘Hi’ and to call her later.” Then, to really play out the conversation how it would be in real life, he turned to me and said, “Aunt Nitti said, Ok”. I was dying! My heart melted! That’s one of those moments when you wish the entire world was watching and enjoying it with you. At least my family.
He continued on this “conversation” for a while, pausing every now-and-again to answer a question and to ask a question like, “When are you coming home?” or “What presents do you have for me?”. Once he was tattling on me and said, “Ya Aunt Nitti, Aiya drives like a race car driver.” What? Even in his imagination world he tattled on me! At the end of his conversations, I always heard him say, “Ok, I’ll talk to you later, bye.” before closing this bright blue plastic flip phone and putting the antenna down. Too much!
Now I know the kid knows how to carry on a normal conversation, at least an imaginary one. That’s a start! So why doesn’t he? Is is because he’s being lazy? Or is too used to us and knows no matter what, we love him and will do anything for him so he cuts to the chase? I can respect that, for I am too impatient with responses and I like to get to the point when I’m in a hurry. Now that I’ve admitted my behavior, is Kyle like me? Is he picking up my candor? Yikes! I better watch it!
However, the difference between my communication skills and his, besides years of experience is the quality. I know how to carry on a conversation, I know how to give pleasantries, I know how to be “normal”, kind of. I’m not that convinced with him, not just yet. Until then, I think Mr. Kyle is going to get a lesson on phone etiquette until it sticks to his brain and falls out his mouth and becomes secondary to his communication skills. After all, parents, or in my case Auntie has to be the life coaches for these children. Kids don’t know what is not taught. So I’ll take the time and usually the headache that accompanies these lessons, to teach him as best as I know how. Not that Kyle has to be like me, not in the slightest, I want him to develop his own style, but there needs to be a foundation for him to build on. Here we go!