The Bright Side of Face to Face Communication…


Photo borrowed from Baggage Reclaim, a blog that helped me a lot at a time I needed it, in the noughties.

I haven’t felt very bright eyes and bushy tailed in recent weeks. Life is not always easy, no matter how much we think we can  go with the flow. The contrast, I guess, helps with reminding ourselves that high, heart powered vibrations are best!

I just watched a Ted Talk, which I thought might help cheer me up, and teach me something useful at the same time. Celeste Headlee, an experienced interviewer, was sharing tips on the art of conversation.

She gave ten tips, I wrote them down, ( I like writing) and hopefully they will help those of us who have forgotten, or never knew, how to pay attention in a conversation,  on the phone, in a job interview, on a Skype call, and how to share, enough but not too much!

So here is Celeste’s wisdom, paraphrased and added to. Thanks to Michael Hyson and Star for the language sculpting principles, which I applied as best I could.

1. Be present. Give the person who talks your full attention. Texting, fiddling, doing anything but listening is going to take away from you being fully in the now, giving your conversation partner the attention his or her words deserve. One could call it taking the time to respect.

2. Pontification? We can do better than that! How about we assume that we will learn something from the other person, oui?

3. Ask open ended questions: who, what, why, how, tell me about..

4. Go with the flow ( there you go)

5. If you don’t know something, say: ” I don’t know!”

6. Really, is there a need to get into that experience of yours that mirrors the one you are being told about? This is about empathy. Keep it that way. Cutting in to tell a story where you are centre stage and ( you think) is a better story than the one you are hearing? Why do you need to? Is this really going to help the person you are (supposedly) listening to? Is this going to make the outcome of this exchange better?

7. It truly is better to tell the story once, and only once. It is condescending to repeat ourselves, says Celeste, it is boring, and we tend to do it a lot. ( think of the French Resistance woman in the cult TV series Allo, Allo: ” Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once!”)

8. Stay out of the weeds. Details can slow a story, especially if you forgot the names and dates and are trying to remember with little success. ( Yawn)

9. A Stephen Covey quote ” Most of us do not listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply. ”         ( Oh hum. Sprung!)

10.Be brief. Another quote, my favourite, from Celeste’s sister this time: ” A good conversation is like a mini skirt. Brief enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

“Be prepared to be amazed!” are Celeste’s parting words.
Cross my heart and hope to die, I promise to practice the art of conversation!

Watch Celeste’s Ted Talk here:


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