The Art of Conversation

So yes, 2 blogs in one day. I was trying to figure out how I would maneuver doing my regular blogs while also doing the Joy Project posts so here’s how I’m maneuvering… doing something I hardly ever do: double posting.

I came across some TEDTalk podcasts today at work and was struck in particular by one of them. It was titled 10 ways to have a better conversation with Celeste Headlee. One of the main things I’ve always tried to work on is my verbal communication. I have a handle on written communication because I have time to plan out what I’m going to say and am able to edit it of course. But I’ve always struggled with verbal communication even with my closest friends because I have trouble thinking on my feet. Or conversely, I just want to get my thoughts out so I end up rambling on and talking too much. It’s something I’ve shared with my manager and our President at work as something I want to work on improving as well.

So when I saw this podcast, I had a feeling it was going to offer some helpful information. Here are the 10 tips Celeste provided:

  1. Don’t multi-task (don’t be half in the conversation and half out)
  2. Don’t pontificate (sometimes it’s ok not to share your opinion)
  3. Assume you have something to learn from everyone and every conversation
  4. Go with the flow (let the thoughts that flow into your mind flow out)
  5. If you don’t know something, say so
  6. Don’t equate your experience with someone else’s (all experiences are individual)
  7. Try not to repeat yourself
  8. Stay out of the weeds/details (it’s ok if you can’t remember all the details about everything; those aren’t the important part of what you’re sharing)
  9. Listen
  10. Be brief and be interested in other people

I think I’m guilty of doing nearly all of these don’ts. Many of them I’ve come to realize I do so I’ve been trying really hard to remedy it. I have plenty of people in my life who don’t abide by many of these either and I know how frustrating that can be to be on the other end. I always worry I’m going to forget a thought that pops into my head so I try to get it out right away but I think that’s often at the expense of what other people want or are trying to say. That of course ties in with being a good listener too. I’m for sure one of the experience equators too. I think we all think we’re helping by letting someone else know we’ve had a similar experience and I think sometimes that does help but sometimes the person is just telling us because they want a listening ear. It’s not our turn to share our experiences, it’s theirs and sometimes we’re going through stuff that no one else can truly understand and that’s ok.

I was so inspired by this, I put it into a list and printed it out at home and at work so I have a copy to refer to. Conversation is such an important part of work and of life that it’s an important skill to hone not just to better ourselves but to really be able to be present and be better listeners for other people too, especially those closest to us. Cheers for this Celeste!

Here’s the video of Celeste’s TEDTalk if you’d like to check it out for yourself.

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