Musician and radio journalist Celeste Headlee says in an interview
that, “A good conversation is interactive for both people — it doesn’t even allow the other person to tune out.”
In conversation, you should be thinking not only about what you’re saying, but also about what the other person is saying.
Are you asking them questions?
Are you keeping them engaged?
For Headlee, the best model for a good conversation is a friendly game of catch, for 2 reasons:
1. It’s balanced: In a game of catch, you can’t throw more than you can catch. Similarly, in a conversation there should be an even balance between listening and talking.
2. You care about the other person: When you’re playing a friendly game of catch, you’re trying to throw the ball in a way that allows the other person to catch it, and then throw it back to you. You’re not only thinking about how well you throw, you’re also trying to set the other person up for success in order to keep the game going.
As she puts it: “If people walk away from a conversation and have learned nothing from the other person, then it wasn’t a successful conversation.”