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.
We can liken this to good conversation, because what we want out of it is to keep it going –just like the 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 so as to knock them out of the conversation. Let’s play it good and fair.
On the other hand, if you think you can ace the other person with every ball it’s a pretty ordinary old game. The ball never comes back over the net. No rallies, no game, poor outcome.