“It used to be that in order to have a polite conversation, we just had to follow the advice of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady: ‘Stick to the weather and your health.’ But these days, with climate change and anti-vaxxing, those subjects are not safe either.”
So what’s a human to do, especially if you find yourself having the same conversation over and over with dismal results?
Celeste Headlee tells us ten ways to hone our interpersonal skills and have better conversations in this well-articulated TED Talk. As a long-standing radio host who interviews people for a living, she says the rules for conversation are simple, although sadly, not often taught. Her rules go as follows:
1. Don't multitask.
2. Don't pontificate.
3. Use open ended questions.
4. Go with the flow.
5. If you don't know, say that you don't know.
6. Don't equate your experience with theirs.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
10. Be brief.
In her brilliant talk, Headlee expounds upon these points with succinct and practical explanation and story.
“Pew Research did a study of ten thousand American Adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided than we ever have been in history.”