Celeste Headlee is the granddaughter of a famous African-American composer, a writer, radio host and professional opera singer. And she has some great tips on how to have a better conversation in this truly captivating Ted talk, ’10 ways to have a better conversation’.

If you have ten minutes spare today it’s really worth a watch – it made us think about how we have conversations; not just in a professional setting but also with friends, family and people we have just met.

It’s incredibly relevant in the modern world where teenagers are much more likely to text friends than talk face to face, and where there are endless distractions competing for our attention.

Above all, remember to go into each conversation with your mind open and prepared to be amazed.

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” (Bill Nye).

Here is a summary of our favourite tips from Celeste’s talk. She says if we could choose just one of them and master it, we will be better at this interpersonal skill – which would you like to improve on?

  • Listen – it takes effort and energy to pay attention, but if you don’t do it, you’re not in a conversation. Stephen Covey said, “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.” So true!
  • Don’t multi-task – be present, be in the moment, put down your iPad, turn off the TV
  • Don’t pontificate – enter every conversation assuming you have something new to learn
  • Use open-ended questions, starting with who, what, when, why and how – for a more interesting response – “How did that feel?” “What was that like?”
  • Go with the flow – let thoughts come and go; don’t insist on telling them that story you’re dying to add when it has nothing to do with what they are saying!
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs – it is not about you; conversations are not a promotional opportunity

KineticFuture specializes in the communications aspects of leadership development. Do contact us to find out more, we promise to listen to you.

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