A good conversation is like a miniskirt, short enough to retain interest, long enough to cover...

...the subject. The title of this post is a quote from one of the slides of the very popular talk (16.5 million + views) by Celeste Headlee on "10 ways to have a better conversation". The main point of the talk is the fact that a conversation requires a balance between talking and listening. I decided to post about this as she mentions that part of the problem lies with technology.

I can't agree more, and without pointing out the obvious, it's not specific to children. Us as adults and parents have a responsibility to ensure we demonstrate the ability to listen. Celeste goes on to mention a high school teacher named Paul Barnwell, who in his article, writes:

It might sound like a funny question, but we need to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain confident, coherent conversation? 

What I hope you get from this post is a couple of things. This is indeed something we need to learn for ourselves and teach and secondly as advised by, to master at least one of the 10 ways mentioned below. I've also added my own 2 cents.


1. Don't Multitask

2. Don't Pontificate

  • Pontificate; to speak or write and give your opinion about something as if you knew everything about it and as if only your opinion was correct.

3. Use Open-ended Questions

4. Go with the Flow

  • As recommended for point one above, ACT ort Mindfulness also has this premise that you learn how to step back and watch your thinking, so you can respond effectively – instead of getting tangled up or lost inside your thinking

  • ACT looks at whether or not your thoughts are “useful” or “helpful”. This could be applied to conversations, "stories and ideas are going to come to you, you need to let them come and let them go".

5. If you don't know, say you don't know

  • "Talk should not be cheap".

6. Don't equate your experience with theirs

  • "All experiences are individual"

  • I equate this to having empathy for the other person in the conversation, seeing the world as someone else sees's it.

7. Try not to repeat yourself

  • Especially in a work environment or speaking with your kids.

8. Stay out of the weeds

  • "So forget the details, leave them out".

9. Listen

  • Claimed to be the most important skill you can develop, the skill to listen.

  • Stay present; "The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen to up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words.".

  • "Takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone".

10. Be Brief

  • Refer to the title of this post

With all of the advances, we have made in technology, let not forget about the basics. The 101 of being human in this world starts with having a [better] conversation.