It takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can’t do that, you’re not in a conversation. You’re just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place. – Celeste Headlee
An important leadership skill in transitions–and every other time–is to be able to talk to people. To talk about their concerns, about how the change might impact them, about your views of the change, about their views of the change; to have an effective conversation that promotes collaboration.
Radio host Celeste Headlee did a TED talk about 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. Americans are more divided in their opinions now than they have ever been, and leaders need to bridge the gap in order to help people work together to implement change. Here are her 10 tips:
- Don’t multitask. Be fully present to the conversation.
- Don’t pontificate. As Headlee says, if you want to state your opinion without pushback, write a blog. <grin>
- Use open-ended questions.
- Go with the flow. Stay focused on what the other person is saying and see where it might lead.
- If you don’t know, say so.
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If the person is telling a story, don’t hijack it by telling about yours.
- Try not to repeat yourself.
- Stay out of the details.
- Listen to the other person.
- Be brief.
This sounds like a very useful list, but it can be overwhelming to do all of it at once. Headlee notes that focusing on one item and getting better at it would help us have better conversations. Where might you get started?
Dee Anne Bonebright