10 Ways to Have a Great Conversation: Part 1 (367)

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In this solo episode, Mike channels Celeste Headlee’s TED talk called “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.” Mike puts his own spin on them by using his experience of releasing over 300 podcast episodes and interviewing many amazing people along the way. There are certain habits and questions that take a conversation to the next level by eliciting interesting topics and showing others that you are invested in what they have to say.

This episode is part 1 of 2, so you will hear Mike’s first 5 tips for having a great conversation. Those tips are: Don’t multitask, don’t pontificate, use open-ended questions, go with the flow, and understand that it’s okay to say you don’t know something. Mike dives into each of these and why they are important to make a great conversation. Tune in next week for part 2, where Mike will cover his remaining 5 conversation tips.

Episode resources: 


Listen to Celeste’s Ted Talk: 10 Ways to Have A Better Conversation

Watch the video version of this episode below:

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Episode transcript below:

Mike Malatesta:

On today’s episode of the HOW’D IT HAPPEN podcast, I am channeling Celeste Headlee’s TED talk called 10 ways to have a better conversation on this one, I’m doing the first five with my spin on each of them and those five are Don’t multitask, don’t pontificate, use open ended questions go with the flow and if you don’t know say you don’t know I had a lot of fun doing this. This is part one. I hope you enjoy. Hey everybody it’s Mike and welcome back to another Friday solo episode of The How’d it happen podcast. Today, I was inspired to talk to you about how to have a better conversation or how to have better conversations. And the inspiration for this came from me listening to Mike Rose podcast, the Dirty Jobs micro, he’s got a wonderful podcast that I listened to almost all the episodes definitely worth checking out. But this one while he was talking to this woman named Celeste Headlee, you can learn more about her. Her name’s Celeste headlee.com, c e l e s t e ata d l e.com. And Celeste is a journalist at NPR. She’s an author, she’s a speaker, she’s a musician. She’s She’s a well rounded person. But she’s perhaps best known at least in the metaverse or in the meta for a TED Talk that she did 10 years ago. And it’s been seen by many, many millions of people. And it was about how to have a better conversation. And of course, she’s an expert at having conversations, because that’s what she does, hosting, you know, her NPR show, but I was so and I was so struck by her and listening to this podcast that I thought to myself, you know, I’ve been doing this podcast, for my own podcast for a little over four years, and I’ve got almost 400 episodes, and I’ve talked to so many people. But one of the things that maybe the most important thing that I’ve gotten out of being a podcaster, besides the education of listening to all the people that I have a chance to talk with is really studying how to be a good conversationalist, particularly when it comes to podcasts. And when she when I heard her talking about her experiences, I thought to myself, well, I’ve got my own experiences that can probably track along with her with her TED Talk. So I watched a TED talk, I took some notes. And now I’m going to, you know, talk about the 10 ways to have a better conversation, which again, is her title, but I’m gonna put my own spin on it from my experience as podcasters. So if you’re, if you’re ready for that, here we go. Number one is Don’t multitask. As you know, there are so many ways to be distracted these days, like, it’s very difficult to sit and just, we’ve all been on Zoom calls, right? If you know what I mean, it’s very difficult to sit and the riveted on a zoom call, or any type of call or any type of conversation without having a desire, at least, to do something else. Look at your phone or look at another website, doodle, you know, whatever. And of course, I have that as well. But one of the things that I’ve learned over time is that when I put all of my distractions out of the way, during a podcast, I can only do one thing, and that is focused on back conversation. And of course, that sounds silly, right? Of course, you’re you only need to put away you put your stuff away, and then you don’t have the distractions. But it’s not just that, because once you put yourself your way, you still have your mind going right? You got your stuff away, but you still have your mind going. And it’s it can be difficult to not to want to multitask, especially when your brains telling you like, hey, it’s time to multitask. So I put all my stuff away. And it, I have to say that the majority of the guests that I have on my show, I think also follow the multitask rule, but it’s very obvious when they aren’t doing that. Because even with notifications off and all that you can definitely tell when someone decides that they’re going to look at an email or they’re going to look at their phone, or they’re going to do something along it’s usually those two things, something along those lines, and it takes away it takes away their attention. And it disrupts me as I’m watching them. So what I try to do, in addition to putting my stuff away is I try to lean in, I try to lean in to the conversation. And I am always taking notes because I find that if I’m leaning in, if you’re watching me, you can see I’m getting closer to the mic if I’m leaning in. It’s like a listening posture. And if I’m taking notes, it’s a reinforcement that I’m reinforcing with my own writing what that person is saying and why it’s important to me. So that’s number one of the 10 ways to have a better conversation. Don’t multitask. If you like what I’m doing with this podcast and want to participate in more of the things I’m thinking about and exploring subscribe to my newsletter today. It’s super simple. Just go to Mike malatesta.com Right now, put in your email and you will get the very next issue. It’s short for audible and designed to inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. Number two, don’t pontificate pontification is boring to me, at least, it’s boring. I think it is to most most listeners, unless you’re like, you know, listening to a political speech or something like that where people sort of have to pontificate because they’re asking you for their vote, or they’re trying to distinguish themselves in a, in a demonstrable way from someone else, usually, not by distinguishing themselves. But by putting the other person down. It just pontificating just gets boring. It’s like, we’re not having a conversation anymore. You’re just blabbing. And we all have, we all have a tendency to do this. I have a tendency, not a tendencies, I shouldn’t say we all have a tendency, we all can do it from time to time. It’s like a natural thing. Like I want to say what’s on my mind. And I just feel like it goes much better in a conversation if, if we don’t come into it thinking that we have something that is more important to say, than rolling, say with the conversation. So number two, don’t pontificate. Number three, use open ended questions, you’ve learned that. You’ve learned that in school, I’m sure. You’ve probably learned that at home with your family. When you ask yes or no questions, you have boring conversations or easy outs for one another. And it’s not very interesting when you use open ended questions. In other words, questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no, typically, that’s how I define an open ended question. They start with who, what, why, when, where, how, and you’re not leading someone to something, you’re just opening the door for someone to walk into. And I find that when I’m able to do that, and when we’re able to do that, it leads to a much more interesting conversation, you get a lot more out of it than you otherwise would. So number four is go with the flow, go with the flow. So if you listen to my iPod, my long form podcasts, I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is how did happen for you. I do that. And it’s the only it’s the only question that I asked every single person is how it happened for you. And I do that, because it’s such an interesting question. But what it does is it leads to a lot of very interesting answers, because I’m not trying to lead anybody anywhere. And when people ask me, What are you looking for? You know, from the question, I’ve heard you ask the question, I said, I’m not looking for anything. I’m looking for whatever it is, you want to tell about yourself as it relates to how whatever it is happened for you. And then after that, I have no questions. I have ideas that I write down and I have in front of me, I have certain facts that I have in front of me about the person. But I have no other questions. And the reason for that is I don’t I never know how someone is going to answer the how to happen question. And I can’t think of a time when their answer hasn’t led to the next question that would never have been the question that I would have come up with if I was scripting out questions. So I just go with the flow. I go with the flow of the conversation, and hopefully, and I get some, my, my, my wife will tell me sometimes you should have followed up with this. And I’m like, Oh, you’re right. And I took it in a different direction. But regardless, I am always going with the flow. I’m always trying to figure out what’s the next appropriate question based on what the person has just told me? And sometimes it probably seems like the very natural next question to ask. And other times, it’s not, it’s something way different. So go with the flow. If you come into a conversation or an interview, and you’ve got all your questions down and you want to make sure you ask those five questions or those 10 questions, I can tell you for sure that your interview or conversation is going to be more boring than it would have been if you just went with the flow. And number five, if you don’t know say you don’t know the three words that I would be very, very, very nervous using early in my career where I don’t know because I felt like it reflected poorly on me if I didn’t know something now, as I’m a bit more mature. And now as I’ve had these conversations with so many people I couldn’t possibly know everything that they’re talking about. I feel very, very comfortable saying I don’t know. And I think it’s powerful too. Because when I admit that I don’t know something, not only do I get you know, people naturally want to fill in and explain to you what you don’t know. But also I think it takes down a wall for them to because when you’re you know they’re meeting most people or meeting me for the first time they don’t know who I am. They don’t know what I’m about and they want to look good. Right? So admitting that you don’t know something might not feel all that comfortable. And when I admit that, I don’t know something first. I think that it takes like kind of deflates To the pressure a little bit, right so that we can all kind of be ourselves and not be so hung up on what we do know or what we don’t know. So I’m going to stop this episode of five because I like to keep these around 10 minutes or so and I’ll do a part two with six through 10 of the 10 ways to have a better conversation. And I do thank you for investing your time and energy in me and in this podcast and I hope you’ve gotten a positive return on that investment today. If you did, please consider subscribing or following the podcast so that every episode comes directly to your feed automatically. And feel free to share the episode to maybe someone you know, get something positive out of this or you may be you know, a podcaster or someone that just likes to have good conversation that’s always looking for a tip or two on how to do that better. So until next time, maximize your greatness and make your future your property a property that you are proud to own. Thanks for listening to this episode of The how that happened podcast where we believe that success doesn’t happen. Unless you make it happen. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcast, Google podcast stitcher or wherever you like to listen. And while you’re there, please rate it and leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the show ideas for future guests or whatever you’d like to share. And of course you can always find me at Mike malatesta.com See you next time. Thanks again for listening to the how that happened podcast.

Alexi Cortopassi

Alexi Cortopassi

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I help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, achieve their life objectives, and create the futures they want.

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