Celeste Headlee at TEDxCreativeCoast, talking about 10 ways to have a better conversation:
Many of you have already heard a lot of advice on this, things like look the person in the eye, think of interesting topics to discuss in advance, look, nod and smile to show that you’re paying attention, repeat back what you just heard or summarize it. So I want you to forget all of that. It is crap. There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.
10 Basic Rules
Don’t multitask. Be present. “Be in that moment. Don’t think about your argument you had with your boss. Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don’t be half in it and half out of it.”
Don’t pontificate. “If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.”
Use open ended questions. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, or how. If you put in a complicated question, you’re going to get a simple answer out.
Go with the flow. “That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind.”
If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. “Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.”
Don’t equate your experience with theirs. “All experiences are individual. And, more important, it is not about you. You don’t need that moment to prove how amazing you are.”
Try not to repeat yourself. “It’s condescending, and it’s really boring, and we tend to do it a lot.”
Stay out of the weeds. “People don’t care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you’re struggling to come up with in your mind. They don’t care. What they care about is you. They care about what you’re like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.”
Listen. This is the most important one. “(…) it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can’t do that, you’re not in a conversation. You’re just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.” Steven Covey: “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.”
“All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.”