I have no idea if I was the sort of teenager who responded to adults with grunts and one word answers, but maybe. (If so, my mother probably would have called it ‘just a stage’. I mostly remember my father hating it when I added ‘right?’ to the end of my sentences. Right, Dad?)
Nowadays I suspect there are lots of people who wish I would give them only one word answers!
Anyway, a few weeks ago I read an article that offered advice to parents of teenagers who would like to be able to communicate better with their kids.
It encouraged readers to take a genuine interest in the other person’s life and ask questions that involve more than ‘yes’, ‘no’ or other one word answers. For example, instead of asking ‘How was school/work?’ ask things like ‘What was the funniest/best thing that happened at school/work today?’*
I reckon this approach can help all of us to avoid monosyllabic responses when we actually want to have a conversation with someone – including with the less communicative breed of teenagers featured in the great video clip: ‘Sort of dunno nothin’ by Peter Denahy.
* Dr Chris Daddis, Associate Professor of Psychology at Ohio State University quoted in ‘The grunt response: typical of teens?’ HealthLogix (July 2013)