TED Tests: How to Have a Better Conversation

Posted February 23, 2016 by swimcreative

Last week, one of our copywriters sent around an awesome TED Talk video called “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.

If you haven’t watched it yet, get on it. It’s amazing.

Don’t have the time to watch? Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Don’t multitask
  2. Don’t pontificate
  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
  7. Try not to repeat yourself
  8. Stay out of the weeds
  10. Be brief

Upon watching, a few Swim’rs were struck with the need to test out the advice for themselves. So for 24 hours we set out to really listen and engage in conversations. Incorporating as many rules as we could, we got after it; we set down our phones, turned away from our screens and gave people our full attention.

The results? Surprisingly hard, especially when you work at a smaller ad agency or the type of environment where multitasking skills are a godsend. While the act of swiveling your chair and addressing a person face-to-face felt foreign and almost intrusive, we stuck with it. We didn’t interrupt. We waited our turn. We listened and learned.

The most exhausting part was stopping your mind from going off into 50 different directions while others were speaking. This sounds rude, but with people able to speak 225 words per minute and think 500, it’s in our DNA to mind multitask. That’s what makes this video and exercise so important. It truly informs you on how bad we all are at conversing and that it is not a natural skill. It is something we all have to work on.

Despite the energy expenditure, we loved it! We felt more engaged, more aware, and despite taking more time to concentrate on one person, less stressed and hurried. These results have inspired many of us to keep up practicing these conversations rules and hopefully ingraining them into our habits for good.

It’s also inspired us to introduce TED Tests, where Swim staffers test out different lessons from TED Talks. If you have any favs you’d like us to test out, send them our way.

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