TED : Ideas worth spreading

Review: 10 ways to have a better conversation

Speaker: Celeste Headlee
Date: May 2015
Location: Savannah, GA

Description from TED website:
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.”

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My Review / Notes / Thoughts

Listening is a lost art. As Ms. Headlee states in her talk, we tend to listen to reply, not to actually hear what the other person is saying. And while this is a slightly older talk, it is still extremely relevant today … maybe now more so than ever.

Ms. Headlee brings a lot of humor to this subject, though it can be considered an important and heavy subject. Sometimes humor is just what is needed to get people to hear the point being made. So I highly recommend you go listen to this talk for yourself.

She provides 10 basic rules for truly listening and communicating with others, and states that even if you choose one to master, you will begin enjoying better communications with just that one rule. I’ll briefly list the rules, but if you want to learn more, you’ll need to go watch her talk for yourself!

  1. Don’t multitask
  2. Don’t pontificate
  3. Use open-ended questions
  4. Go with the flow
  5. If you don’t know what to say, say that you don’t know
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs
  7. Try not to repeat yourself
  8. Stay out of the weeds
  9. Listen
  10. Be brief

Even without explanation, I think that you can learn a lot from that list. However, you’ll learn more by watching the talk.

She leaves the talk with a statement that I think is worth repeating.

“Go out, talk to people, listen to people, and, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

When we truly listen to people, we can learn so much, and we can be amazed by what they tell us. We can all benefit from improving our communication skills, and listening is a key component of that skill set!

And what about the classroom? I think this would be a great video to include in any course that is focused on teaching communication skills. So this means this talk could be used in a variety of fields of study. It would be good as a prompt for both papers and discussion. What other ways could you see leveraging this talk for engagement in your classroom?

Check out more resources on listening and conversation, curated by Celeste Headlee.

Until next time … live long life-learner!

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