you're online, on the phone, or face to face, you need to keep the conversationgoing back and forth
what I call the tennis match.
Tennis Match Guidelines for Understanding your Partner
• Take Turns: Leave room for your partner to open topics, to express opinion, to
gather thoughts and express opinions. Don't jump right in to a silence if it's notyour turn.
• Concentrate: Listen carefully to what your partner is saying
-- don't wander off mentally into what you want to say next.
• Volley (Respond): After your partner says something, respond directly to it,
letting him or her know that you heard and understood what was said, and, if possible that you have similar thoughts or experience.
• Don‟t Argue: There is definitely a place for spirited discussion in good
conversation, but be careful not to get too oppositional. Your objective is toestablish understanding.
• Return the Serve: At the end of whatever you say, invite a response
“don't you think?” or “What do you think?” or, make your response a question.
• Serve Again: If your partner drops the ball, ask a question about something that
was said before, and give your partner plenty of time to express his or her opinion.
If your tennis match goes on long enough, you‟ll learn a lot about each other, andyou'll both feel you have “so much to talk about.” The tennis game approach is not
rigid, but a flexible attitude that you can adapt to almost any situation.
When you encounter a partner who is two aggressive, and overwhelms you with toomany words, too much emotion and drama, or too much attention, you need to
learn to set limits. If you‟re interested in keeping the relationship going, you also
need to learn
to step up and hit the ball in your partner‟s direction. Learning to say „no‟ or even to be silent in a neutral way is not necessarily easy, but is essential foravoiding uncomfortable situations. Be polite, but firm when you say “no, thank you”
and you will stop the other person from imposing on you. Often, saying nothing isthe best tactic. Wait until your blustery partner runs out of steam, and then you canmake your statement.