I recently led a discussion on Ted Talks “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” by Celeste Headlee (link: https://lnkd.in/eeuXPu7) and this was one of my most well-attended sessions. I even had an attendee share with me afterwards, that she mentioned the talk with some colleagues who could not attend, and they were setting up their own discussion on the topic. I also shared an infographic, which included all 10 tips, to those that attended the session, encouraging them to share among their teams. Now, getting back to the the person who started all this…conversation:)

Celeste Headlee is a radio host, author, and professional speaker based in Rockville, MD. Her book, “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter” was released in 2017. The book has allowed her to talk to audiences between 50-500 people all over the world. Additionally, her TED Talk on the same subject has over 12 million views on the TED website. TEDx talks were created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. Headlee’s talk took place at TEDxCreativeCoast.

During our TED Talk workshop, we watched Headlee’s talk, heard her fantastic tips, and discussed some successes and challenges we had around communicating with others. Here are some tips/thoughts that stood out from the workshop. I hope they will be helpful to you in having successful conversations.

How to talk and listen: Tip: There is no reason to act like you are paying attention when you are actually paying attention. Seems like a thought that is a simple truth, but how many times, have you (me included!) been actually ready to respond, instead of actually listening? A great reminder to actually be in the conversation, not in your head.
Be ready to have a great conversation: We have all had really great conversations. We know what they feel like: when you walk away, you feel engaged and inspired. Additionally, you feel like you’ve made a great connection or feel understood.

For some it can be overwhelming to think about all 10 tips, Headlee suggests choosing one tip to focus on, master it and you will have better conversations. I would also suggest, once mastering one tip, add another and then another, until eventually you will have all the tips in your communications toolbox.

For the “no multitasking” tip, remember to be present-and if you want out of the conversation, get out of the conversation. (Articles I found on getting out a conversation politely are here, here and here).

Don’t pontificate. Headlee says, “If you don’t want to hear from others, start a blog.” She also encourages us to remember that “when there is no push back , there is no growth.” Additionally, while you may not agree with the opinion being shared, you should enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.

Headlee also quotes, American psychiatrist and best-selling author, M. Scott Peck, saying “True listening means setting aside of one self,” which is a good reminder. She says “Thoughts will come in [your mind], let them go out.”
Another tip, “Everybody is an expert in something.”

Also, there is no need to add your story. For example, the person discusses their trip to Cambodia, and you have gone too. You do not need to be bound and determined to share your experience. It’s their story.
Remember, experiences are individual. It’s not about you.

Headlee feels that one of the most important tips is listening. She said “No one ever listened their way out of a job.”

In closing, Headlee says “Everyone has some hidden amazing thing about them, be prepared to be amazed.” What a positive thought to have when entering a conversation!

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