Celeste Headlee says: “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.”
Regardless of your position in the practice, it’s a fair bet that conversation is a BIG part of it. And in her 2016 Ted Talk, Celeste outlines ten ways to have a better conversation. Her Ted Talk is only 11 minutes. And when you watch it, you’ll find it is just as relevant in 2023 as in 2016. You see, the art of conversation is a timeless skill. Here’s the list:
1. Don’t multitask.
2. Enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.
3. Use open-ended questions.
4. Go with the flow.
5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs- It is never the same.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
10. Be brief.
Today, I want to talk about number nine – Listen.
Most recently, I heard Mike Rowe (The Dirty Jobs guy) interview Celeste on his podcast: “A lot of people assume when they talk about listening, they are talking about hearing. Hearing is physiological. Listening is cognitive…Think about how much time we spend training people in public speaking. And we spend no time training them to listen, which is actually the harder of the two.”
I’ve attended countless courses during my career in dentistry about how to communicate, have a conversation, give a presentation, make a speech, etc. I have NEVER attended a course on how to listen. And I think we need more of that. After all, as Celeste reminds us, a real conversation involves both speaking and listening. Whether it’s a conversation with a team member, boss, patient, spouse, or child – the same principle applies. And it’s time we all listened a little bit more.