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Celeste Headlee

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Communication & Human Nature Expert, Award-winning Journalist & Author

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3 Programs By This Presenter

Celeste Headlee’s How to Have Conversations That Matter keynote focuses on the science-based fundamentals of communication and includes thought-provoking topics like the “smarter” you are the worse you are at communicating. This highly motivational talk, with 10 practical lessons, is designed to inspire self-confidence and introduces strategies for enhancing personal and professional relationships by simply becoming better at having conversations.

Celeste’s presentation provides concrete actions to improve  conversational skills and broadens views on what constitutes good conversation. Having a conversation is like playing a game of catch. Communication has increased in our technological age, but meaningful conversation has plummeted. If a conversation is one-sided, the ball drops. 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 knows the ingredients of a great conversation; honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening.  She argues that listening is the true power of what separates those of us who can gain a competitive advantage in whatever it is we are trying to achieve. Knowing what conversational tool should be used (and when) is critical to cultivating relationships.

Webster’s Dictionary defines civility as “polite, reasonable and respectful behavior.” However, growing consideration has produced a more nuanced, sophisticated and helpful definition. This expanded definition highlights that civility entails honoring one’s personal values, while simultaneously listening to disparate points of views. Civility transcends politeness and encompasses pursuing shared ideas to reach common ground. Prioritizing civility facilitates effective communication, high-functioning teams, inclusive and productive communities and civic engagement. Social psychologists have recognized the importance of civil discourse with challenging topics such as politics and religion. We shouldn’t shy away from it. (Haidt, 2012). Celeste is happy to address Civility in Conversation. Celeste Headlee’s Having Better Conversations presentation focuses on the science-based fundamentals of communication and includes thought-provoking topics like the smarter you are the worse you are at communicating. This highly motivational talk, with 10 practical lessons, is designed to inspire self-confidence and introduces strategies for

enhancing personal and professional relationships by simply becoming better at having conversations. Celeste offers concrete actions to improve attendees’ conversational skills and to broaden their view of what constitutes a good (and civil) conversation.

Having a conversation is like playing a game of catch. Communication has increased in our technological age, but meaningful conversation has plummeted. If a conversation is one-sided, the ball drops. 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 knows the ingredients of a great conversation; honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. She argues that listening is the true power of what separates those of us who can gain a competitive advantage in whatever it is we are trying to achieve. Knowing what conversational tool should be used (and when) is critical to cultivating relationships.

Bad communication in the workplace costs us about 37 billion dollars a year. That means the cost of miscommunication is more than $26,000 per worker per year. Good communication is profitable. Companies whose leaders are great communicators had almost 50% higher returns.
Smart people often try to deal with emotional problems with logic and that approach is doomed to failure. Emotion is neither weakness nor is it unhelpful. Humans are social animals and our emotions are both useful and important. We need to remind ourselves that IQ is not EQ and that emotional intelligence is often more important than IQ when it comes to effective communication. You should bring both your IQ and EQ to every conversation.

99% of the time, when people ask me questions about conversation, they’re asking me how to change someone else’s behavior. My goal is to help that person understand that the change starts with them. Changing their behavior intentionally, assertively and with confidence is difficult but necessary. Their modeling of good conversational etiquette will eventually change other people. We have to face the truth that most of us don’t have a great sense of our own conversational competence.

You can’t trust your logic. We make logical errors constantly. System 1 Thinking serves a purpose to simplify our decisions so that we don’t spend necessary time thinking everything through. However, System 1 thinking is also easily duped and often mistaken because it relies on assumptions. System 1 is also quite emotional; it uses stereotypes to make decisions and even though we think we are being logical, we really aren’t.

The next time you are part of a conversation that goes awry try to figure out what went wrong by asking the other person’s opinion. Tell them that the conversation didn’t go as you hoped and you wonder if you could have phrased things differently, if you were focused on the wrong things or if you didn’t understand their point. Then….listen. Listen to what they have to say without taking offense. That might be quite difficult for some so prepare yourself mentally. If you can do this, you might begin to get a picture of how you come across in conversations and discover that it’s very different from your own perception of yourself.

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