Restaurant.com partnered with New York Times best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi to conduct a research project on fostering relationships of all varieties through dining.

The result was five conversation guides for various dining occasions, including family, friends, significant others, colleagues, and clients. Each week, we will be sharing one of those dining guides on The Dish, along with a real-world example of what the guides can do to improve relationships.

This week’s guide is for family. If you try the guide with your own family, let us know how it went in the comments section below.

Low-stress Dining with Family over Spring Break and Easter

After more than a year of non-conversations with her two teenagers, Marsha, a single mom, signed up for a dinner out with pre-meal prep from the Greenlight Guide for Dining with Family—a brief list of expert tips on how to develop better relationships with family members. The help couldn’t have come at a better time. Marsha was working such long hours that she felt she was missing out on her kids’ key high school years. On those rare occasions when they found themselves in the same room, they seemed to have lost the ability to communicate. When Marsha tried to broach a sensitive issue—her son’s precarious grades or her daughter’s rebellious friends—their conversations were fraught with so much tension and avoidance that she got nowhere. By the time she signed up for the guided meal, Marsha had pretty much given up hope of getting through to them at all.

After being seated at a carefully chosen local restaurant that Marsha knew her kids would like, Marsha popped one of the most innocuous questions in the Guide, asking her kids who was their favorite teacher from school, and why. The teens were skeptical at first, but when they saw that their mother actually seemed to want to know, they opened up. The trick was the Guide’s emphasis on listening. “My listening skills were definitely enhanced by following the tips in the Guide,” Marsha explained, “especially allowing the talking party to exhale before speaking myself. I never realized how often I interrupt my children’s sentences to provide advice or a premature reaction before it’s necessary.”

The combination of posing the right questions and listening in the right mode has made a huge difference for Marsha’s family, that night and ever since. Sometimes, the most subtle tweak of a long-ingrained habit—such as restraint from interrupting others while they are talking—can transform a family dynamic dramatically.

Maybe you can use the guide for a special meal with your children during the upcoming spring break. And it will absolutely be useful for promoting family interaction and harmony during a special brunch or dinner at Easter.

The Greenlight Dining Guides—which cover clients, colleagues, family, friends, and spouses—are a collaboration between Restaurant.com and Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and chairman of myGreenlight Academy. To make the guides as useful as possible for Restaurant.com’s users, Ferrazzi’s expertise in relationship-building meal-time conversation is bolstered by other specialists in the field of psychology, relationships, and communication, including Veronica Berenstein, PhD; John Gottman, PhD; Mark Goulston, MD; Dave Joseph, LICSW; Ramdas Menon, CHt; and Ziggy Yoediano, MD, MBA. For more advice and guidance on developing fulfilling interpersonal relationships, check out Keith Ferrazzi’s blog.