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Creating Successful Leaders

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.--Bryant H. McGill

I recently listened to an excellent TED Talk by Celeste Headlee on the art of having a meaningful conversation. Headlee was a radio host and reporter for NPR for several years and used what she learned from interviewing to develop 10 basic conversation principles.

Today, we often talk past or talk over each other. Instead of truly listening to what the other person has to say, we are busy multi-tasking or thinking up a response. Because of this tendency to focus on ourselves instead of on the other half of the conversation, a lot is lost in translation. Headlee’s 10 principles remind us how to fully engage in meaningful conversation and actually learn something from one another. Briefly, her 10 principles are:

  1. Don’t multi-task (be fully present and engaged)
  2. Don’t pontificate (expressing your opinion without any room for discussion only shuts down a conversation instead of opening up a dialogue)
  3. Use open-ended questions
  4. Go with the flow (thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go and focus on what the other person is saying)
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know (it’s okay to admit when you don’t know something!)
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs (your experience is not the say. Don’t make this a promotional opportunity for you; instead, listen to what they are saying and respond to that)
  7. Try not to repeat yourself
  8. Stay out of the weeds (don’t bog down your story with irrelevant details)
  9. Listen (This is probably the most important principle!)
  10. Be brief (As Headlee’s sister says, “A good conversation is like a miniskirt: short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”)

Think about these principles as you engage others in conversation today. Be present, ask good questions, and practice active listening.

If you’d like to watch the whole TED Talk (It’s only 12 minutes long), please click on the image below. Happy conversing!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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