'At my house, the main discussion at lunch was what we were going to have for dinner.' - Paul Lynde Getting together and making time for a sit-down dinner is a good way for families and friends to maintain connections with each other. For parents and children it is a time to check in with each other; for parents it is a time to see how their kids are going at school as well as a way of making sure they are developing healthy eating habits and good table manners. For colleagues, it may be a way to talk about work or 'talk shop' (an informal way of discussing work matters). Whatever the situation, whether it's a family get-together for a home-cooked meal or at a restaurant, it is the perfect opportunity for busy people to interact and talk about what's going on, understand more about ourselves and to get to know each other a bit better. Why talk at the table? Why not? There is nothing more satisfying than talking round the dinner table and communicating with others. By saying 'what's on our minds' helps build better bridges and relationships. Now, how to start . . . Firstly, ask questions where you can learn more about the topics that are of interest to you or your family members, workmates or friends outside of work and school. Try asking more creative questions - these require the person to give you more information. Ask follow-up questions that will get the attention of the person you are speaking to. Example Friend 1: It was great weather on the weekend. What did you get up to? Friend 2: I went to the beach with my brother. Friend 1: Yeah, which one? Friend 2: Big Wave Bay. Friend 1: Really? I hear you can go surfing there. Can you surf? Avoid asking questions that will just give you a 'yes' or 'no' answer. Example John: Did you do anything on the holidays? Maria: No. John: Did you meet up with any of your friends? Maria: Yes. We all know how busy Hong Kong can be and finding time to sit down together as a family may be hard but dinner table conversations are definitely worth the effort. For parents and kids, it's a time to open up and talk respectfully with each other not at one another. It's also an opportunity to touch base with the happenings of the day. Example Father: What did your friends think of your Halloween costume? Daughter: They liked it. Father: And your teacher? Was she wearing a costume too? Daughter: No, but she wore a funny hat. Father: Did you read any stories about Halloween today? Daughter: No, but we had to write a story. Father: Great! What was yours about? Also, listening is the key to communication. Just keep these in mind when you're having a conversation: Stop talking and listen Make sure you look at the person who's talking Listen thoughtfully about what is being said before responding Remember, next time you're at the dinner table, restaurant, cafe or school canteen, always allow the other person, whether its family or friends, to contribute to the conversation honestly and freely. Complete the conversation below with the following words. Yeah Really? And you? What have you I hear But Frankie: Hi! Long time no see. 1) _______ _____ _____ been up to? Danny: I've been really busy studying. So many assignments to do! 2) ____ ____ Frankie: 3) ________ I've got a lot of work to do as well. Hey, 4) __ ____ your basketball team won the semi-finals. When's the final? Danny: In two weeks' time. I hope we win. The competition will be tough though. Frankie: 5) ____ yours is a really strong team. Danny: 6)_________ Thanks, I'm sure it will be an exciting game. Answers: 1) What have you 2) And you? 3) Yeah 4) I hear 5) But 6) Really?