10 Way to Have A Better Conversation

Celeste Headlee begins by pulling out Pew Research results, which indicate that the American population is mostly polarized (Headlee, 2015). Therefore, most people do not have meaningful conversations, since they have lost balance between talking and listening. Also, taking teens as a case study, most Americans prefer texting one another to talking face to face. Headlee suggests the following intervention to improve the quality of a conversation.

Headlee explains that committing fully to a conversation makes it healthy and meaningful. That entails not multitasking and being present in the conversation. That way, one flows with the conversation and maintains the direction and interests of the conversation. One may achieve that by avoiding pontification and setting aside their opinions unless requested to contribute them. When making such requests, Headlee suggests that open-ended questions lead to detailed and reasoned explanations. Also, it is not reasonable to equate one’s experiences with the speaker, or claim to know something that one does not. Lastly, a better conversation is that which speakers listen to understand, and short enough to maintain interest.

Headlee points out some crucial conversation elements that I did not regard highly before. For instance, I have struggled to use physical gestures to motivate a speaker to keep on talking, even if I am not listening. Headlee suggests that one should leave or engage in the conversation actively if they want to (2015).

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Additionally, conversations are not always platforms for speakers to pontify, prove expertise, or equate their experiences with others. A better conversation is that which participants listen, understand, flow with each other. That is, both listeners and speakers are interested in one another.

Onwards, I will utilize Headlee’s suggestions to improve the quality of conversations in teams at school, workplace, and home. Firstly, I will teach my peers the ten ways to have a better conversation, making sure that the teachings are short to interest them. I will make sure to stay out of the details, listen to speakers, and be actively present in the conversation to influence their conversation skills passively.

Secondly, in school coursework groups, I will maintain healthy conversations by accepting that I don’t know everything, and allow others to participate deeply by asking open-ended questions. Besides, I will avoid multitasking to capture all of the speaker’s points and listen to understand them rather than prove them or myself right.


Headlee, C. (2015). 10 ways to have a better conversation [Video]. TED.