10 ways to have a better conversation | Celeste Headlee

10 ways to have a better conversation | Celeste Headlee

All right, I want to see a show of hands: how many of you have
unfriended someone on Facebook because they said something offensive
about politics or religion, childcare, food? (Laughter) And how many of you
know at least one person that you avoid because you just don’t want
to talk to them? (Laughter) You know, it used to be that in order
to have a polite conversation, we just had to follow the advice
of Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady”: Stick to the weather and your health. But these days, with climate change
and anti-vaxxing, those subjects — (Laughter) are not safe either. So this world that we live in, this world in which every conversation has the potential
to devolve into an argument, where our politicians
can’t speak to one another and where even the most trivial of issues have someone fighting both passionately
for it and against it, it’s not normal. Pew Research did a study
of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment,
we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re
not listening to each other. And we make decisions about where to live, who to marry and even
who our friends are going to be, based on what we already believe. Again, that means
we’re not listening to each other. A conversation requires a balance
between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way,
we lost that balance. Now, part of that is due to technology. The smartphones that you all
either have in your hands or close enough that you could
grab them really quickly. According to Pew Research, about a third of American teenagers
send more than a hundred texts a day. And many of them, almost most of them,
are more likely to text their friends than they are to talk
to them face to face. There’s this great piece in The Atlantic. It was written by a high school teacher
named Paul Barnwell. And he gave his kids
a communication project. He wanted to teach them how to speak
on a specific subject without using notes. And he said this: “I came to realize…” (Laughter) “I came to realize
that conversational competence might be the single
most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging
with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal
communications skills. It might sound like a funny question,
but we have to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain
coherent, confident conversation?” Now, I make my living talking to people: Nobel Prize winners, truck drivers, billionaires, kindergarten teachers, heads of state, plumbers. I talk to people that I like.
I talk to people that I don’t like. I talk to some people that I disagree with
deeply on a personal level. But I still have
a great conversation with them. So I’d like to spend the next 10 minutes
or so teaching you how to talk and how to listen. 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. (Laughter) There is no reason to learn
how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, I actually use the exact
same skills as a professional interviewer that I do in regular life. So, I’m going to teach you
how to interview people, and that’s actually going to help you
learn how to be better conversationalists. Learn to have a conversation without wasting your time,
without getting bored, and, please God,
without offending anybody. We’ve all had really great conversations. We’ve had them before.
We know what it’s like. The kind of conversation where you
walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel
like you’ve made a real connection or you’ve been perfectly understood. There is no reason why most of your interactions
can’t be like that. So I have 10 basic rules.
I’m going to walk you through all of them, but honestly, if you just choose
one of them and master it, you’ll already enjoy better conversations. Number one: Don’t multitask. And I don’t mean
just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys
or whatever is in your hand. I mean, 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. Number two: Don’t pontificate. If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response
or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog. (Laughter) Now, there’s a really good reason
why I don’t allow pundits on my show: Because they’re really boring. If they’re conservative, they’re going to
hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they’re liberal, they’re going to hate big banks and oil corporations
and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don’t want to be like that. You need to enter every conversation
assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires
a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means
setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become
less and less vulnerable and more and more likely
to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have
something to learn. Bill Nye: “Everyone you will ever meet
knows something that you don’t.” I put it this way: Everybody is an expert in something. Number three: Use open-ended questions. In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who,
what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question,
you’re going to get a simple answer out. If I ask you, “Were you terrified?” you’re going to respond to the most
powerful word in that sentence, which is “terrified,” and the answer is
“Yes, I was” or “No, I wasn’t.” “Were you angry?” “Yes, I was very angry.” Let them describe it.
They’re the ones that know. Try asking them things like,
“What was that like?” “How did that feel?” Because then they might have to stop
for a moment and think about it, and you’re going to get
a much more interesting response. Number four: Go with the flow. That means thoughts
will come into your mind and you need to let them
go out of your mind. We’ve heard interviews often in which a guest is talking
for several minutes and then the host comes back in
and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere,
or it’s already been answered. That means the host probably
stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought
of this really clever question, and he was just bound
and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing. We’re sitting there having
a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time
that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop. (Laughter) And we stop listening. Stories and ideas
are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go. Number five: If you don’t know,
say that you don’t know. Now, people on the radio,
especially on NPR, are much more aware
that they’re going on the record, and so they’re more careful
about what they claim to be an expert in and what they claim to know for sure. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap. Number six: Don’t equate
your experience with theirs. If they’re talking
about having lost a family member, don’t start talking about the time
you lost a family member. If they’re talking about the trouble
they’re having at work, don’t tell them about
how much you hate your job. It’s not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly,
it is not about you. You don’t need to take that moment
to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once
what his IQ was, and he said, “I have no idea. People who brag
about their IQs are losers.” (Laughter) Conversations are not
a promotional opportunity. Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself. It’s condescending,
and it’s really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations
or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it
over and over. Don’t do that. Number eight: Stay out of the weeds. Frankly, 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. Number nine: This is not the last one,
but it is the most important one. Listen. I cannot tell you how many
really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most,
the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If your mouth is open,
you’re not learning.” And Calvin Coolidge said, “No man
ever listened his way out of a job.” (Laughter) Why do we not listen to each other? Number one, we’d rather talk. When I’m talking, I’m in control. I don’t have to hear anything
I’m not interested in. I’m the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there’s another reason: 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. And look, I know,
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. (Laughter) You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, “Most of us don’t listen
with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.” One more rule, number 10,
and it’s this one: Be brief. [A good conversation is like a miniskirt;
short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover
the subject. — My Sister] (Laughter) (Applause) All of this boils down to the same
basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people. You know, I grew up
with a very famous grandfather, and there was kind of a ritual in my home. People would come over
to talk to my grandparents, and after they would leave,
my mother would come over to us, and she’d say, “Do you know who that was? She was the runner-up to Miss America. He was the mayor of Sacramento. She won a Pulitzer Prize.
He’s a Russian ballet dancer.” And I kind of grew up assuming everyone has some hidden,
amazing thing about them. And honestly, I think
it’s what makes me a better host. I keep my mouth shut
as often as I possibly can, I keep my mind open, and I’m always prepared to be amazed, and I’m never disappointed. You do the same thing. Go out, talk to people, listen to people, and, most importantly,
be prepared to be amazed. Thanks. (Applause)

Comments (100)

  1. She seems like a good person to converse with until you go off topic for two seconds then she rips your head off and stops talking to you. Definitely the type of lady to yell at you or get pissy for changing the subject..

  2. I don't agree with point 9 and this saying from Buddha. You do learn when you talk. For me and for many it is a form of reinforcing what you have learnt or made sense of recently. Indeed, one needs to find the right balance of listening and speaking but one cannot outright discredit the importance of speaking in learning.

  3. راااائعع جددا 😍😍

  4. 5:14 I'm very anti-liberal and I hate all those 😀

  5. 💗💗💗👍✌

  6. lots of neurodivergent people (adhd/autism/etc) do number six. We're not trying to make ourselves seem better or that we've "gone through worse", we're just trying to show you that we can understand how you feel.

  7. I listened to her and tried to understand. Gotta admit, not the best conversationalist.

  8. I'm glad i watched this

  9. I feel like a loser for looking at this

  10. This was EXCELLENT!

  11. Anybody afraid to talk with somebody who thinks vaccines might not be as great a thing as the media and pediatric associations want you to believe?

  12. I do not know why I feel more interesting in the first half of the video, before she try to "teach" @@.

  13. This whole notion about technology gapping or degrading ppl ability to converse is not entirely accurate, I predate the Internet and never had the ability to socialize

  14. Everything she said you shouldnt do I’ve found to be an interesting or cute personality trait depending on how it’s done and who does it… so…. i don’t think there’s a way to put rules on convo.

    You either like someone or you don’t. It’s beyond convo technique. And to think you cAn game the system of natural human connection by acting differently, is arrogant and misleading.

    My one rule is learn to be 100% Authentic. Be yourself as often as possible and you will be ok. If you’re someone who tells long stories, own it! You might not fit into every social circle or every convo, but THATS OK!!! Just be you and u will attract people who are ok with that.

    As for everyone else, instead of judging someone for being different or “annoying” we need to learn to accept people regardless of who they are, what they say, or how they communicate.


  15. Anyone else think that this was Anita Sarkeesian about to rage about some feminist bullcrap again?

  16. Also Bill Nye: sexuality comes in ice-cream flavours

  17. I guess it is all above love.

  18. The way u talked about how important our conversation in life has made me understood just listen more nd talk less.. Thank you

  19. Great TTalk! Reminds me of the conversation killers from "The Fine Art of Small Talk"

  20. Everything she said is so true.
    But doesn't it apply only when the other person is applying all these points? (I'm not suggesting I do, I'm not that good).
    Some people amaze me and some others never do (although I let them speak while I listen attentively to what they have to say).

  21. Suuper amazing talk

  22. good advice… i still dont want to talk to racists on the internet anymore

  23. That was just like number 10! You are lots of adjectives at what you do,all of them positive! Beautiful!!!

  24. I have learnt a lot and am truly amazed by her! Thanks so much!

  25. 11:45 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  26. I'd love to have a conversation about how THHHHIIIICCKK.. 😏

  27. THANK YOU! #5 is the best one.

  28. two words: lovely audience.

  29. You guys saw the black hole it was a very interesting looking donut.

  30. Universidade renner 2019

  31. Thank you very good talk

  32. Need 10 ways to avoid any conversation.

  33. Excellent advice. And Celeste has a very smart sister :o)

  34. Brilliant. Thank you!

  35. I loved your talk listening is a good skill to have I've been working on it for a long time. I rather listen than watch sometimes it seems you can catch a whole lot more that way

  36. If you support trump, I’ll kick you out of my house!

  37. I hate having conversations with people when it feels like they are interviewing me.

  38. 5:53 – Bill Nye the anti-science guy? LOL!

  39. Algún wn del paula?

  40. I love this so much! Everyone needs to watch this… and apply it!

  41. We talk around 250 words per minute, but we can listen up to 500 words per minute. Now I know why I prefer and focus better on double speed!

  42. It’s all well and good to put the onus on the listener, but I think you’ll find there is a real problem with the people speaking these days. I know you covered it somewhat in this talk, because to partake in a conversation we are both listeners and speakers. But what is it you make of monologists, and to what responsibility do we hold the speaker , as to their role to keep a listener interested?
    People these days waffle on complete rubbish, so therefore it’s no wonder the other person becomes disinterested and starts thinking of a turtle bombing a hill on a skateboard.

  43. I feel like I’m so boring, my friends say I’m not but I feel like I can’t keep a conversation going and I feel so bad because I NEVER know what to say. Like I care about the things people say but I just for the life of me don’t know what to say :/

  44. You don't need to read a book,
    She abbreviated everything.👏

  45. She said that go with the flow… what if you think about recalling your experience and equating it with theirs?

  46. I know it's a cliche to say well this video changed my life. 😂 l used to think if l entertain others all the time they will stay longer. I even tought if there was silence something was wrong. Haha was that a fail. I kept talking about me me me and me and there was some interesthing and funny stuff but l complitely forgot about other person in front of me. I was left with only 1 friend. 😂 But that's only because she is the most amazing friend who is able to take a lot of crap and not hold it against you. Now that l listen and pay more attention to the others l am filled with extra energy, l could run two marathons. When the attention was focused on me l was so tired at the end of a day. And l just love people and their uniq stories. So much can be learned! You are all so amazing, you are all my tribe. Have a good one! 🌞

  47. 5:07 Unfair to blogs.

    Including mine: A few of them are specialised on where others were specifically allowed or even invited to debate and talk back:

    dito in French and German:

    Dito on FB walls and groups:

    Dito per mail (including FB mail):

  48. "All experiences are equal"

  49. My problem is the exact opposite of other people. I am perfectly fine with just sitting there listening to a conversation, then people ask me sarcastically to shut up

  50. "Number five: If you don't know, say that you don't know."

    Yea i tried this one, my teacher didn't really like it.

  51. I am still waiting when will Ted is gonna talk

  52. And here I am watching at 1.5 playback speed. We all need more words per minute, otherwise we get impatient.

  53. This talk could have been way more effective if Miss Celeste could talk in a low speed, good talk and content but not that good presentation.
    Sorry and thank you.

  54. Maybe there is no one who respond to my question but I left that
    2:04–2:08 Why is people laughing at the time for listening to the sentence "I came to realize~" ?
    I'm English beginner though

  55. She is talking about what women need to learn in order to carry on a conversation.

  56. Amazing. Thank you.

  57. “ the average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute.” This is exactly why I’m watching this at 1.25 x speeed😂

  58. "A conversation is like a miniskirt, short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject." I like this saying.

  59. Finally I understood the main point of the video.

  60. Cut out the bullshit small talk, if you are going to say something about YOU say something about YOU, not where you went to school blah blah.

  61. SKELER

  62. The old guy sitting in the front row of the audience was completely and totally disengaged from her talk.
    He looked like a corpse sitting there.

  63. Omg, this was 🔥🔥🔥

  64. Can someone translate this to Spanish?

  65. 1. 한꺼번에 여러가지 일 하지 않기. 그 대화에 푹 빠지기
    2. 설교하지 않기. 자기주장만 내세우고싶으면 블로그에 글이나 써. 항상 배눌 것이 있다는 자세로 대화에 임해. 진정한 경청은 자신을 내려놓는거야. 때때론 자신의 의견을 내러놔야 할 수 도 있지. 하지만, 말하는 이가 듣는 이가 수용하고있다는 느낌이 들면 더 속내를 열기돠.
    3. 자유롭게 대답할 수 있는 질문 해. (Ex. 화났어요? 어땠어요?)
    4. 대화 흐름 따라가기

  66. This is the most awesome TED video that i've ever seen

  67. easier said than implemented

  68. You are fantastic…. What a logical and real analysis. Every single word of this speech is true. Loved it.

  69. God, I just realized I was so bad to talk to. 😰 Sorry people. I would be doing much more of self assessment keeping this in mind. Thanks ❤

  70. Didn't Winston S. Churchill say the skirt quote?

  71. I find your conversation very intelligent spoken and explaining your ways of our lives. Take care of your health and the weather makes all the sense in the world to me. Very important for everyone in our world.

  72. Guess I should start making friends based off of what I’ll believe in the future.

  73. Hello Ma'am, what you said is absolutely important but there's nothing new.. no honestly not a word was new.. all these things have been told to us by Mom, Dad, elderly people, school teachers from our childhood but the question is whether we really implement it or not….

  74. Honestly speaking,I was really amazed by this speaker when she ended up with ‘be prepared to be amazed’.Conversation has been always
    troubling me as the central issue of my social life. The skills that the speaker called ‘all crap’ are something that I actually tried.Yes,I used to
    brag out my humor to attain the attention of others in a conversation.The speaker,instead,tend to explain the importance of acceptance.Maybe,
    she is correct.All the ten 10 rules are the same in my opinion.Only when we all are bound to listen,I will feel more of the world.

  75. The reason I’ll start my own blog : @ 4:52

  76. How do you have a conversation with someone when you both have nothing to say?

  77. Nino would pay attention and take pictures showing that he did give his attention.

  78. 8:49 I know for a fact that this is not true. Its always about details when you are with other people. Simplest example is birthdays. You can not find a single person, who doesnt care about other people's birthdays. Unless the said person is an antisocial person, which should be going without saying.

  79. I don't understand why the audiences were laughing… She was not funny…

  80. what if the people you talk to are thinking the same as you? No-one will talk…

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