Learning to Play Conversation Tennis - With Watto

If you’ve played tennis, you know what it means to have a good rally back and forwards over the net. We can liken this to good conversation, because we want the communication to keep going – just like a tennis rally. We may have a few shots or hard words and are not afraid to lob one up in the air occasionally, but if we trust each other we don’t want to play any shifty shots against the other person and knock them out of the conversation.

Can We Talk?

Can we …..

  • Listen?

  • Hear with our hearts?

  • Be counted on?

  • Listen, without letting our bias get in the road?

  • Feel OK to contribute to the mix?

  • Listen, without hammering away with our own opinions?

  • Encourage another person into a safe, non-judgemental conversation?

  • Let the quirky aspects of our personality emerge?

  • Love the unloveable?

  • Thankfully take in love and encouragement?

  • Come to grips with asking the Big Fella to help you learn how to trust Him?

Then … you’ll dream dreams and find fulfilment, and you’ll have joy in the heat of battle.

Learning to love is really one of the most important things we get the opportunity to do in our life. You don’t have to blow it!

Book Launch - Can We Talk?

"I hope my dream for you comes true, and that after you’ve found the treasure in “Can we talk?”, you’ll become an outstanding listener your friends and family will love and admire. You’ll be able to let out the magic and quirkiness of your personality, and enjoy being the real you with those around you, connecting and communicating."

"Asking “Can we talk?” opens up hearts, honesty, freedom and the ability for people to accept themselves as perfectly OK and brave enough to say, “I don’t know” and “Can you put it another way, please?” Once the barriers of mistrust and lack of confidence have been smashed, we’re able to begin lifetime friendships and business success has been assured."

Ian and Margaret’s conversation tips

If it involves someone close, you may have to just shut up and listen and not get cut up because they don’t show any interest in anything that is important to you. Just continue to invest love into the other person. It will come back to you one day. We reap what we sow. More wise words from the Work Manual: Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27 ESV)

Let the music come out of you

Let the music come out of you - I’ve come to identify the moment or moments in conversations where I have a choice to make a call in my head. I can keep on track and not tell myself my sad story in SILENCE or dump on the one I love and drag her into the ‘poor-me club’, or go the other way to ANGER (yell back louder). No, I refuse to go into my sad story. I make the choice and call. I’m not going down that path ’cause I will miss out on the gold of this important conversation. If I want the best conversation, it’s up to me. Just think: If I’m going to dump on Margaret, that’s going to make her anxious and can knock her down emotionally. I can turn her away from me without even knowing it. That’s crazy!

Safe conversations

One of my closest mates and I have been practising being safe in conversations, usually with heat and tension, for over 50 years. We’ve proven time and again that we never go past the safe place, because our mateship is the most important thing we want to maintain at all times. Our differences of opinion regarding politics and footy teams open up our world to see a bigger and brighter future. We learn plenty from each other. It’s not often that people change their core beliefs – but we can certainly see the big picture with what we learn from each other if we both can listen.

Learning to play conversation tennis

Learning to play conversation tennis - Our defences of silence or anger come out when we don’t feel safe. What’s the solution? If you’ve ever had a go at tennis, you know what it means to have a good old rally back and forwards over the net. How many shots could you get up to in the rally? Rallies work best when both players return the ball over the net in a manner that keeps the rally going. We get to play some nice little shots, a few relaxed backhands, a few overheads, and a few lobs and we never try to put the other bloke off. In fact, we try to keep the rally going, keeping him on the court returning the ball. One or the other eventually wins the point but only after we’ve both had the best rallies backwards and forwards.

When conversations go wrong…

When conversations go wrong… Usually, when we get lost in a conversation and it goes belly-up, we go down the drain one of two ways. We say to ourselves, ‘Poor me, I don’t deserve this, I’ll shut down and get back at the other person by giving them the SILENT treatment.’ I’ve been on the receiving end of that treatment many times from different people. It’s very frustrating being on the receiving end of that treatment, especially if you’re a person who’s learned to ‘have it out’. The other way we can go is into some form of ANGER. We raise our voice, thump the table, get red in the face, the blood pressure goes up, fold our arms, yell louder and lose it. I’ve also been on the giving and receiving end of that treatment many times during discussions on contentious subjects. I’m sure that you, too, have experienced both. You quite often find that the person who loses it has other big stuff on their mind and this blow-up moment is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

How to have a champion chat with the girl of your dreams

How do you go with conversations with the one you love? How about conversations with your family members or mates? Are they safe with you? Or have there been times when a conversation went belly-up and ended up with someone blasting off and walking off in a bit of a huff? Or did you go into your little hole of defence, giving them the silent treatment and shutting down? Would you like things to be different? They can be, Champion! Let’s go!

Beware, love isn’t lust and lust isn’t love

Beware, love isn’t lust and lust isn’t love - We soon discover that real-deal love is a lot more than jumping into bed with someone. It might look the way to go in the movies, but it could turn your life into a nightmare from a sexually transmitted infection or worse! Lust can end up like a Weapon of Mass Destruction. The way love is portrayed in our culture through books, TV shows, movies and sex shops to name a few, can be seen as yet another weapon of mass destruction. The high number of broken relationships is enough evidence that we’re off track. Lust eventually kills ya on the inside but real love flies you to the moon forever.

Getting the gold of real-deal love

Getting the gold of real-deal love ~ Remember this gem from the Work Manual: ‘Love is of God’ (1 John 4:7). The Big Fella’s love never fails. It works for me, and it can work for you. All the best, getting the gold. The Big Fella has oodles of gold in his promises for us in his Work Manual. It helps give us ultimate love for each other. It’s your call. If you know of a better way to get to know what the real-deal dinky-di love in your heart is, let me know, because our world has squillions of blokes desperately ready for new hearts and real love.

Don’t mess it up


I know you want the best in your intimacy. Don’t mess it up. Your quality time in bed together and its beauty and amazement builds from the smallest things. Once you appreciate each other’s love language and needs, don’t waste important minutes doing things that don’t count. 

Team tips from the Big Fella

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10–12 ESV)

Max's Story

Max's Story - We started dating when I was 19, and it was lust, not love, that drove me to persist when we had dramas with her family. Her parents were very strict but they allowed me to take her to church. I only went so I could spend more time with her. My persistence paid off. We got married 3 years after we first started dating.

Listen to your heart

Listen to your heart Think about a breakdown in what was once a love relationship that started in 2 hearts. One partner makes a choice to lock down their heart, and the relationship is immediately in big trouble. Sometimes one can’t take the tough and hardened heart of the other anymore, and it’s soon all over.

What about you, champion?

What about you, champion? Blokes, contrary to what society has trained in us, imposed upon us, or passed down to us such as, ‘toughen up princess’, or ‘take a spoonful of cement and toughen up’, or ‘big boys don’t cry’, it’s OK to have a red-hot look at your heart and see what hurts are in there.

Champions learn to love themselves

Champions learn to love themselves Champion, do you love YOURSELF? It’s a bit hard to love someone else if you’re always bashing yourself or putting yourself down. In my earlier years I probably had the other problem: I loved myself too much. Well, that’s what I was constantly told. ‘Ian, you love yourself, you’re up yourself.’ The Big Fella loves us and he wants us to love ourselves. Take care if you are bashing yourself with thoughts of negative self-esteem or even worse, self-hatred. If you see yourself as inadequate or inferior it’s time you stopped believing the lie.