Are you always looking for ways to show you are listening; keeping intense eye contact, profusely nodding your head, saying “yes”, “I know”, and “mhmm” every other word?
In a world filled with distractions and opinions, it’s easy to dread having face-to-face conversations. However, we as humans crave interaction. As a consulting firm, we have conversations with different people every day, from the traveling public and politicians to our coworkers and teaming partners.
When we have the skills to hear the person talking, instead of just waiting for an opportunity to respond, opportunities present themselves for connections. In some cases, this can often lead to compromises that never seemed possible.
Celeste Headlee says the best way to feel connected and show that you are paying attention is to simply pay attention. She uses her strategic technique, which consists of 10 easy tools, to stay engaged and focused during conversations.
To enhance our skills, we held a training focused on all the ways we can have better conversations. This training session is part of a continuing in-house professional development program designed to provide every employee-owner at Alliant with the skills and knowledge necessary for success. As we continually look for ways to grow and learn from new best practices, we provide these developmental opportunities to employee-owners at all levels at Alliant.
According to Celeste Headlee and her methodology, there are ten ways to have better conversations:
Be present. Don’t look at your phone.
If you come to a meeting and are just responding to emails and working, you are not in the meeting. Be honest with people and reschedule if needed.
Enter the conversation assuming you have something to learn.
Having an open mind is key to having productive conversations.
Who, what, when, why, how.
This provides opportunities for people to express feelings and dive deeper into their answers.
Let thoughts go so that you can keep listening.
If you have stopped listening because you want to insert your point into the conversation, you’re not really having a conversation – more just two people saying things in the same space.
There is no need to lie to impress someone.
Honesty is always better and allows for more real conversations.
No two experiences are the same. This conversation is about them, not you.
People use comparing situations as a means of connection. Although this is a helpful tool be sure to not flip the conversation to be all about you.
This can become condescending.
If you are saying the same thing over and over, and just slightly changing the way you are saying it – it’s not getting through.
People don’t care about every detail.
If you can’t remember what day you’re talking about, don’t spend two minutes getting wrapped up in remembering that detail. People care about you and what you are saying.
You don’t need to prove you are listening with big facial expressions and exaggerated nods if you are actually listening.
Keep to the point.
The most meaningful conversations are concise and provide all the details needed in a timely manner.
The energizing discussion we had around this topic brought us closer together and provided outstanding tools to improve our conversations.
For more information on Headlee’s theory, you can watch her TedTalk here.