Instead of trying to show you are paying attention, Headlee suggests these 10 steps to have deeper, more interesting conversations:
- Do not multitask. If you do not want to have a conversation, then get out of the conversation.
- Do not pontificate. "Write a blog instead," she proclaims. Go into the conversation assuming you have something to learn. [Daniel's thought: If you have nothing to learn, why are you wasting your time talking?]
- Ask open ended questions.[Daniel's thought: But not too opened. "Tell me a bit about yourself" is terrible because it is overwhelming in its enormity. Try something more manageable such as, "What are a few highlights of your life is the past couple of years?"]
- Go with the flow. Let thoughts come into your mind then flow right on out. Otherwise you will likely miss some really interesting stories.
- Admit when you do not know.
- Do not equate your experience with theirs, no matter how similar your experience has been.
- Try to not repeat yourself, including rephrasing. [Daniel's thought: This is fairly difficult, especially when opinions are being thrown around; but people do sound pretty dumb when they just keep saying the same thing over and again.]
- Stay out of the weeds. Details like dates and names, unless critical to the story, just detract from the focus.
- Listen. Headlee quotes Calvin Coolidge, "No man ever listened his way out of a job." If you are not listening, then "you're just two people shouting barely related sentences," she quipped.
- Be brief.
Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation