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How to become a master at conversations

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Nowadays, our conversations tend to be more polarized and divided as there is always somebody fighting for an argument or being against it, making it less likely to reach a compromise.

A proper conversation requires balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.

Just think about it: Is there any 21st century skill more important than being able to sustain a coherent and confident conversation?

Enjoy better conversations by mastering 10 basic rules:

  1. Don`t multitask and always try to pay attention.
  2. Don`t pontificate. Be open to other people`s opinion and assume that you have something to learn from everybody.
  3. Use-open ended questions, in order to make the interlocutor think more about their response, making it much more interesting.
  4. Go with the flow of your thoughts, trying not to jump from one subject to another.
  5. If you don`t know something, say it.
  6. Don`t equate your experience with theirs. Remember that all experiences are individual and that conversations are not promotional opportunities.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself by rephrasing the same idea over and over again.
  8. Let go of the details! Nobody cares about all the years, dates or names that you are struggling to come up with.
  9. Listen! There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.
  10. Be brief. Winston S. Churchill once said: “A good speech is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest but long enough to cover the subject.”

Assume that everyone has something amazing hidden about them and try to find out what is that something. Keep your mind open and mouth closed as often as you possibly can and be prepared to be amazed!

Celeste Headlee

Celeste Headlee hosts a daily talk show, On Second Thought, on the Georgia Public Broadcasting state network. Headlee has worked in public radio since 1999, as a reporter, host and correspondent. She was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR before becoming the co-host of the PRI show “The Takeaway.” She holds multiple Bachelor of Music degrees and still performs as a professional opera singer. She appears on the album “Classically Blue” from gospel artist Lea Gilmore. She’s the granddaughter of composer William Grant Still.

Watch this inspiring and entertaining TED Talk and find out how Celeste Headlee shares the main ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening.

Video source: C. Headlee (2015), 10 ways to have a better conversation, TED Talks.

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