Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation

I just heard one of the best TED talks about conversations. Celeste Headlee covers everything I try to include in my 1-3 hours of training on communication skills, and even more, in just 12 minutes!

The ten tips are:

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be fully present.
  2. Don’t pontificate. Set aside your personal opinions.
  3. Use open-ended questions.
  4. Go with the flow. Let your own thoughts come and go.
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It’s not about you.
  7. Don’t repeat yourself.
  8. Stay out of the details.
  9. Listen! Be interested.
  10. Be brief.

I also loved these quotes from the talk:

  • “If your mouth is open, you are not learning.” -Buddha
  • “No man ever listened his way out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge
  • “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand; we listen with the intent to reply.” -Stephen Covey

The Worst Uses of Your Mobile Phone

I was in a business meeting recently where the other person kept looking at his phone for messages or emails every time it vibrated. He even typed a couple of messages during the hour long meeting while we exchanged important information and discussed a possible business relationship. Do you think I want to do business with this person?

I was reminded of a time when an estate agent was showing me an apartment when his phone rang and he started chatting non-stop. After waiting for about five minutes, I just walked out of the apartment. When he called back to ask what had happened, I told him exactly what had happened and never met him again.

Whether you are in an important business meeting, or having quality time with a loved one, responding to a call or looking at messages/emails only communicates one thing to the other person: You are not as important as the person calling/messaging/emailing me right now. I think these are some of the worst uses of your mobile phone:

  1. Holding it in your hand or placing it in front of you during a business or personal meeting. If you are expecting a call, let the other person know.
  2. Looking at it every now and then, and reading emails/messages during important conversations. If you must read or send an urgent message, please excuse first.
  3. Immersing yourself in your phone when in a social gathering. That only means: Do not disturb, or I am not interested in any conversation.
  4. Talking loudly on your phone in a public place without any consideration for other people. Either talk softly, or move away from the people.
  5. Typing on your phone while walking, and expecting other people to watch and move out of your way. Ever seen a collision of two people typing on their phones without looking up?

It’s funny how we use our mobile phones to connect with everyone in the world, and often forget to connect with all the people around us – often the most important people in our lives that we just take for granted.

Here’s a funny video clip of Jerry Seinfeld talking about the ‘iPhone and Blackberry People’.

    6 Email Mistakes to Avoid

    I hesitated about this post because it’s not related to enhancing life. But it will surely enhance your communications over emails. I don’t know about you but I get really peeved about a few things people do when using emails. Here are some established email etiquette to consider:

    1. Subject line. Some people try to convey the entire message in the subject line. And some people never bother to change/update the subject when the topic of the email changes. The subject line should only be used for the subject.
    2. Group emails. If sending an email to a group of people who don’t know each other, put everyone under ‘bcc’ instead of ‘to’ or ‘cc’. Otherwise you expose everyone’s email addresses without their permission.
    3. Reply. Only hit ‘reply all’ if you want all the 100 people on the email to see your reply. Otherwise, hit ‘reply’. This is particularly relevant when sending an acknowledgment to the sender.
    4. Punctuation. have you seen those emails where the writer doesn’t use any punctuation marks those emails are not only difficult to read but also very unprofessional punctuation marks are for a reason and they should be used even in informal emails. SIMILARLY, AN ENTIRE EMAIL IN UPPER CASE IS EQUIVALENT OF YELLING AT SOMEONE. and full emails in lower case are Continue reading