I watched this TedTalk yesterday about having better conversations. This woman named Celeste Headlee talked about talking to and listening to people, very important things which have changed radically in modern times. Interference by electronics like mobile phones have made us more anti-social, resulting in us not being to have good conversations anymore and not listen well to what someone has to say.

I want to share with you what knowledge she passed on to me (and with me a lot of other people who saw or listened to the talk).

Here goes!

Look the other in the eyes, think of interesting topics, nodding and smiling, repeating back and summarizing; Celeste said you should forget these points. What really matters are the following ones:


#1 Don’t multitask.

Do not only put  your stuff, like your mobile phone, away, but be present. Be in that moment. Don’t think about other things. Don’t be half in and half out.

#2 Don’t pontificate.

If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog (hehe). Enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. “True listening requires a setting aside of oneself. Setting aside an opinion.” It results in the speaker opening up. Bill Nye said: “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Celeste likes to say: “Everybody is an expert in something.”

#3 Use open-ended questions.

Use who, what, when, where, why, and how at the start of questions. When you ask a complicated question, they will gave a simple answer. “Was it terrible?” “Yes, it was.” Let them describe it: what was that like? They might have to stop and think about it.

#4 Go with the flow.

Thoughts come into your mind. Let them go out of your mind. let stories and ideas come and go.

#5 If you don’t know something say that you don’t know.

Be more careful to claim what you are an expert in.

#6 Don’t equate your experience with theirs.

Has the other lost a family member? Don’t talk about your loss because it’s never the same. All experiences are individual. It’s not about you. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

#7 Try not to repeat yourself.

It’s condescending. You have a point to make and keep rephrasing it. Don’t do it.

#8 Stay out of the weeds.

People don’t care about years, names, all those details you’re struggling to come up with. They care about you.

#9 Listen!

The most important skill you could develop. If your mouth is open you’re not listening. Stephen Covey: “most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen to reply.”

#10 Be brief.

“A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject” (great quote!).

The basic concept is: be interested in other people. Everyone has some hidden amazing thing about them.

To summarize: Keep your mouth shut, your mind open, be prepared to be amazed, and never disappointed.


If you want to watch the talk for yourself, you can do so right here. I hope these points help you in having better conversations. I will definitely use them!

And as always; have a jolly day!

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