“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
– Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
I was thinking about the lost art of conversation. How everyone wants to talk, but no one wants to listen. I randomly came upon a TEDx talk with Celeste Headlee, called, How to Have a Good Conversation. Here are her ten rules:
1. Don’t multi-task. Don’t be half in half out of the conversation. Be in it or out of it.
2. Don’t pontificate. Enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. Set aside your personal opinion. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t. Everyone is an expert in something.
3. Use open ended questions. Start your questions with who, what, where, when, how? Let them describe it. What was that like? How did that feel? (Me – ask any questions at all!)
4. Go with the flow. Thoughts will come and go.
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they’re talking about the time they lost a family member, don’t start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they start talking about the trouble they’re having at work, don’t start talking about how you hate your job. It’s never the same. All experiences are individual. It is not about you.
7. Try not to repeat yourself. It can come across as condescending and it’s really boring. We tend to do it a lot in work situations and conversations with our kids.
8. People don’t care about the minutiae; the years, names, dates. Forget about the details. What they care about is you.
9. Listen. Why do we not listen to each other? We’d rather talk. When I’m talking, I’m in control. I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested in…We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words.
10. Be brief.
A summary of Celeste’s rules:
Be interested in other people.
Everyone has a hidden amazing thing about them.
Go out, talk (and listen!) to people and prepare to be amazed.