When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations — and that most of us don’t converse very well. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”





to pontificate – express one’s opinions in a pompous and dogmatic way
polarise – divide or cause to divide into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs
to overlook sth – fail to notice
crap – nonsense
to set aside – keep for later
weed – a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.
distracted – divert (attention) from something


Think about it

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing letters.

1. Don’t m_lt_t_sk. Don’t be h_lf-pr_s_n_
2. Don’t p_nt_f_c_t_. Ass_me that you’re l_arn_ng.
3. Use op_n-_nded questions. Start with who, where, when, what, how.
4. G_ with the fl_w.
5. If you don’t know something, just s_y  _t
6. Don’t _qu_te experience. It’s n_v_r the same.
7. Don’t r_p_ _t  yourself.
8. Stay out of the w_ _d. No details.
9. Li_t_n.
10. Be br_ _f.

Which of the statements do you agree with, which do you disagree with? Why?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

Why _______ we not listen ________ each other? Number one, we ________ rather talk. When I’m talking, I’m ________ control. I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested ________. I’m the center ________ attention. I can bolster my ________ identity. But there’s another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks ________ about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling ________ those other 275 words. And look, I know, it ________ effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can’t ________ that, you’re not in a conversation. You’re just two people shouting ________ barely related sentences in ________ same place.


Explore it more

TED Talk // Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen