In her TED talk, Celeste Headlee poses the question, “Is there any 21st-century skill more important than sustain sustained, coherent, confident, conversation?” Headless draws a lot of parallels between interviewing people and knowing how to hold a great conversation. When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations — and that most of us don’t converse very well.
Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”
Here are just a few of the points she touches on in this TED talk, 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation:
Nothing good can come from trying to have a conversation with someone while also texting your friend at the same time. In order to truly be present and have an engaging conversation, it’s best that you focus on the person sitting in front of you rather than trying to watch TV or be on your phone.
Practice True Listening
True listening is when we come into a conversation and set aside all biases and preconceived notions. Most of us have a tendency to judge people right away based on their looks, their mannerisms, or the limited information we may know about them. But when we are truly listening we set aside all of these biases, including our own opinions.
Ask the Right Questions
Try to avoid asking overly complicated questions or those questions that elicit a yes or no answer. Instead of asking a question like, “Did that make you angry?” ask instead “How did you feel?” That way, the conversation will keep flowing naturally instead of ending with a yes or a no.
Conversations can be hard to have, which is why it’s important that we take the time to think about how we conduct ourselves during them and what we can do to improve our talking skills. For more tips on how to improve your communication and work skills, check out our blog post “How to Be Mindful at the Office.”