Let’s Just Talk…Effectively
The ability to have a true conversation – one where a person can talk by share thoughts and experiences openly while feeling accepted and respected – is becoming increasingly rare. More and more, many of us seem to be raising our voices to be heard, to make a point, to prove one’s rightness over another’s wrongness. But we are listening less and less. And when many of us do listen, we do so to craft a response. We seldom listen to learn.
What happened to a good conversation? Many point to technology – we’re too busy with our attention focused on screens instead of each other. Perhaps, but maybe it has to do with the 24-hour cable news services that need to provide content even when there is not much news to share. So bring in the pundits and let’s have an argument! But I suggest that instead of pondering the past, we look proactively to see how we can make civil conversations cool again!
Author and journalist, Celeste Headlee shared her thoughts on techniques one might use to enable better conversations on a recent Ted Talk (10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation, Celeste Headlee, April 2015).
As the title of her talk suggests, she offers 10 approaches for improving one’s ability to experience more genuine and meaningful conversations. Here they are (with slightly paraphrased descriptions):
1. Don’t Multitask Effective conversation requires one to be present, to be there in the moment when another is speaking.
2. Don’t Pontificate “Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn” Setting aside personal opinions will often send a signal of acceptance to the speaker which in turn enables them to become more open with what they have to share.
3. Use Open Ended Questions Avoid asking questions based on your initial conclusions. Instead inquire with phrases such as ‘What was that like?’ or “How did that make you feel?’.
4. Go With The Flow As one listens, thoughts will enter one’s mind that can distract from effective listening. It is important to acknowledge that this will happen, but that it is critical that one simply let’s those thought come in and go out.
5. If You Don’t Know, Say That You Don’t Know “Err on the side of caution. Talk is NOT cheap.”
6. Don’t Equate Your Experience With Theirs “It is never the same. All experiences are individual. It is not about you.”
7. Try Not To Repeat Yourself Make your point once and move on. If they don’t hear it the first time, it is unlikely they will hear it multiple times.
8. Stay Out Of The Weeds It can be easy to load a story with minutia, but the details will often result in the listener becoming disengaged.
9. Most Important… Listen! By far the most important skill that one needs to effectively communicate and to have good, meaningful conversations. Ms. Headlee paraphrases a Buddhist expression ‘If your mouth is open, you’re not learning’.
10. Be Brief Yup!
And as she simply states at the end of this beautiful talk “Be interested in other people. Be prepared to be amazed!”
Thanks for reading everyone and have a great week!