I identify myself as an extrovert, so I love having sincere and meaningful conversations with people. Among the different forms of interactions out there, face-to-face ones work the best for me. To me, great conversations reveal many opportunities for inspiration, learning, and personal growth. I wouldn’t say I’m a great conversationalist, but I do wish to have more of it with people!
In May 2015, Celeste Headlee shared 10 ways for us to take our communication game to the next level. There were many takeaways and points to think about from this talk, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Here are my top three takeaways:
1. Listen wholeheartedly with intent, and be sincerely curious to ask questions 2. Don't pretend to know something when you actually don't. It's perfectly ok to admit that you lack the knowledge of the subject of the conversation. 3. Always assume that there is something to learn from the conversation. Everyone knows something that you don't.
Takeaway #1: Listen wholeheartedly and ask questions
“There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention. “Celeste Headlee
Stephen Covey was quoted to say that “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.” I could resonate with this quote as there was a time where I was guilty of this. Not only is this a must-do for all conversations, but it is also a sign of respect for the other party. If we’re not being fully present in the conversation, why bother being in it at all? If you’re guilty of this, like I once was, please stop immediately. Instead, be curious enough to understand where the other party is coming from, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to dive deeper; we can’t learn anything if we don’t listen intently and ask questions.
Takeaway #2: Don’t pretend to know something when you actually don’t
“Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.”Celeste Headlee
The whole point of conversations is to fill in the gaps in each other’s knowledge and wisdom by exchanging useful information. In my experience, it can be a very humbling experience to put aside one’s ego and express your lack of knowledge about a subject. This then empowers – and sometimes delights – the other party to fill you in on the details. There is simply no value-add to pretending to know something you don’t; you’re not opening yourself up to the opportunity to learn something new.
Takeaway #3: Assume that there is always something to learn
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.”Bill Nye
Everyone goes through different life experiences, and thus might learn different things when compared to you. Even if the eventual learning point is the same, the context and process in which you went through might be different. Again, great conversations contain opportunities for us to learn something new. Therefore, there will be always be something that we can learn from the experiences of others if we listen with intent and curiosity.
[BONUS] Takeaway #4: Never equate your experiences with theirs
“It’s not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are personal.”Celeste Headlee
(This last takeaway is a bonus for readers of Kopithoughts! The version on my LinkedIn page only has three, so this is my way of saying thanks for visiting my site!)
From my observations, this is perhaps the most common mistake made during conversations. I once read that everyone’s favourite topic is themselves. With the right “trigger phrases”, everyone will become almost too eager to share their thoughts to “relate” to the conversation. Sometimes, we need to understand that it’s not always about us. Thus, there is no need for us to bring in our own experiences as though it is the same when it isn’t.
Those are my four key takeaways from Celeste’s sharing! All of the other points shared were also very valid and applicable, and I’ll strongly suggest that you watch the full talk till the end. If you felt that you resonated a lot with what was shared above, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or share this post with your friends with the tag @kopi.thoughts!