I am not good a new year's resolutions but every year I do make the same one:

Try to listen more and talk less.  

The reason this is a resolution every year is that I find it a real challenge - still better to try and fail than not try at all!  

This week I came across this TED talk by Broadcaster Celeste Headlee. Celeste has 10 tips to help us have better conversations.

In short, she explains how to have a conversation without wasting your time, without getting bored and without offending anyone.   Effective conversations result in us being engaged, inspired and understood - but it takes effort.  Here are her ten top tips.  I am determined to work on all of them but number 9 is the key...

10 basic rules to having better conversations:

  1. Don't multitask - Be present.  Be in that moment.
  2. Don't pontificate - Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn.  Set aside your personal prejudice. Everyone you meet knows something you don't!
  3. Use open-ended questions - who, what, where why.  The more complicated your question is the shorter their answer will be.  You won't learn much that way.
  4. Go with the flow - listen and go with their flow.  Do not go off on your own tangent.
  5. If you do not know something; say you do not know.
  6. Do not equate your experience with theirs - it is not about you.  It is about them.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself - it is boring and annoying.
  8. Stay out of the weeds - people do not care about the details.
  9. LISTEN - if your mouth is open you are not learning.  It takes proper energy and effort.  Try to make the effort.  Listen with the intent to learn - not to reply.
  10. Be brief 

Forget the eye contact, nodding, smiling, repeating back what you just heard etc - the best way to look like you are paying attention is to pay attention!

Note to self - 'Be interested in other people. Keep your mouth shut, your mind open and be prepared to be amazed'