Aug 01, 20183m read

Our 5 Takeaways from Celeste Headlee’s TEDx Talk About Conversation

Spot.IM’s commitment to fruitful conversation remains top of mind. Now more than ever we see the indispensable value of constructive and cordial chats between people from different walks of life. For years, we’ve prioritized building social platforms that would allow individuals to connect and form communities around their favorite topics. Bringing people closer and closer together is what we are all about; and in that spirit, we would love to share some quick learnings from a wonderful TEDx Talk by Celeste Headlee.

In less than 15 minutes, writer and radio host Headlee analyzes and summarizes the most challenging aspects of having a conversation nowadays. Her clear and deeply relatable words more than ring true. She might have offered “10 ways to have a better conversation,” but please find below our top five takeaways from her exceptional presentation:

1. “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.”

2. “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.’ 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.”

3. “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 the 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.”

4. “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. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.”

5. “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.”

We hope you found these pieces of advice helpful. We certainly gained new insights and confirmed many of our underlying beliefs. As Headlee says so beautifully at the end, “go out, talk to people, listen to people, and, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

Are you genuinely interested in other people?


Community Manager at Spot.IM

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