WE NEED TO TALK. They are, perhaps, the most dreaded four words in the English language. But in her timely and practical book, We Need to Talk, Celeste Headlee—a public radio host—makes the case that they are urgently needed.
Today most of us communicate from behind electronic screens, and studies show that Americans feel less connected and more divided than ever before. The blame for some of this disconnect can be attributed to our political landscape, but the erosion of our conversational skills as a society lies with us as individuals.
And the only way forward, says Headlee, is to start talking to each other. In We Need to Talk, she outlines the strategies that have made her a better conversationalist and offers
actionable steps anyone can take to improve their communication skills. For example:
• BE THERE OR GO ELSEWHERE. Human beings are incapable of multitasking, and this is especially true of tasks that involve language. Think you can catch up on your e-mail while talking on the phone? Think again.
• CHECK YOUR BIAS. The belief that your intelligence protects you from erroneous assumptions can make you more vulnerable to them. We all have blind spots that affect the way we view others.
• HIDE YOUR PHONE. Don’t just put down your phone, put it away. Research suggests that the mere presence of a cell phone can negatively impact the quality of a conversation.
Whether you’re struggling to communicate with your child’s teacher, your boss, your neighbor, or someone you love, Headlee offers smart strategies that can help us all have conversations that matter.