Who better than Celeste Headlee to suggest 10 ways for us to have a better conversations?
She is an author, speaker, journalist and musician. She’s interviewed thousands of people and practices the art of communicating – which may explain why over 11 million people have tuned in to hear what she has to say.
Many of us assume any conversation is comprised of two relatively clear-cut things: the people involved are interested and will take turns listening to each other’s ideas and thoughts in some communicative form; whether it’s through dialogue, blogging or texting.
Unfortunately, conversing is not as simple as we once thought. In fact, for many of us it’s a big stretch. I knew this was true some years ago when I felt compelled to pick up a book by Sherry Turkle.
I wanted to curb the frustration I felt knowing the kids had become increasingly addicted to their cell phones. I had grown tired of catching them quietly pressing the key under the dinner table (all phones were forbidden during dinner).
When I discovered Turkle’s book – cleverly called, “Alone, Together” – I thought I was getting a jump on this compulsion.
I wasn’t. Shamefully, despite my protestations, I was no better than my kids and equally guilty of the same transgressions… texting and glued to a screen.
Fast-forward a dozen years – the cell phone creep had invaded every facet of my life and my family’s. It replaced interaction on every level. Even my young grandchildren were fascinated and pretended to talk on a cell phone mimicking mommy and daddy. We laughed knowing this wasn’t really funny and I seriously wondered about the long term effects of this unstudied patterning.
Sure, cell phones have given us convenience and comfort, knowing we are easily connected to a larger world. They also help us to minimize tasks like ordering groceries online for delivery. Heck, we swipe left to choose who we want to date or we can easily send big yellow circles with emoji expressions to tell someone how we feel. But walk into a restaurant and how often is it the case that most people sitting close enough to talk to each other have their heads frozen in their laps?
Celeste Headlee reminds me of our “headless” behaviour. We have lost our heads and don’t know how to talk about differences in political ideologies or many of the topics driving our society’s future. We’ve stopped talking and listening because we can’t agree and we don’t want to fight. There’s enough of that happening in the world, right?!
Even when some of my friends gather for a lovely dinner, most of them don’t want to talk about anything “controversial”. These are smart people but our news junkie culture has somehow made us all experts with nothing to learn.
Celeste is a the voice of reason who gives us some well-needed advice. I won’t hold it against you if you watch her on your cell phone, but beware: she may just entice you into a conversation about our need to have more conversations. Nothing would make me happier.