Have better conversations

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” Stephen Covey once said.

As we teeter between civility and chaos in our public discourse, this wonderful TED talk by journalist Celeste Headlee challenges us to have better conversations. Instead of talking at people, let’s talk with people. Let’s listen with the hope of better understanding.

Yes, their opinion or viewpoint will likely be different than your own. We all bring a unique set of experiences – and therefore vantage point – to each new encounter.

But here’s the thing with difference. Fundamentally, just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s good or bad, better or worse. It’s just different.

So in an effort to embrace, respect, and learn from difference, Headlee outline 10 easy steps to follow. Simply focusing on one or a couple will probably set you on a path to better conversations with people.

1. Don’t multitask

2. Don’t pontificate

3. Use open ended questions

4. Go with the flow

5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know

6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs

7. Don’t repeat yourself

8. Don’t go into the details (names, number, dates…)

9. Listen

10. Be brief

And with each conversation, maybe we can all make the world a more welcoming and enjoyable place.


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