How to Have a Good Conversation | Celeste Headlee | TEDxCreativeCoast

  • Published on May 7, 2015
  • When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have great conversations - and most of us don’t converse very well. A great conversation requires a balance between talking and listening. This balance is important because bad communication leads to bad relationships, at home, at work, everywhere.
    Celeste Headlee has worked in public radio since 1999, as a reporter, host, and correspondent. She was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR before becoming the co-host of the PRI show The Takeaway. She also guest hosted a number of NPR shows including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, Weekend All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

    Celeste holds multiple degrees in music and still performs as a professional opera singer. She's the granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, the Dean of African American Composers. Celeste is an avid hiker, biker, paddler and dog walker.
    This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Comments • 1 581

  • Charlito Mani
    Charlito Mani Hour ago

    Think the divide is a little wider in 2019. Not sure why though.

  • TheLIGHT
    TheLIGHT 13 hours ago

    Why are we more divided? Due to the backlash of the liberal democratic loss of the presidential election thats why. This country has been subject to a malicious child that had their ball taken away from them. Never in history of this country where a political party has shown its stripes in such shameful fashion since the election.
    Honorable mention to the mainstream media as well for fueling and feeding the divisive fire.

  • Madd Scientist
    Madd Scientist Day ago


  • Elvis
    Elvis Day ago

    everyone says to listen but if no one talks how do we listen?😭

  • Bostic Reiva
    Bostic Reiva 2 days ago

    Even more accurate in 2019. We only go downhill from here

  • Toudjidoum Meurdé joel

    This intervention from Celeste Headlee is full of meanningful because of that made me more attactive to her.

  • Fleure Noire
    Fleure Noire 2 days ago

    maybe we don't agree with those we are force to live with?
    When I'm talking with those I'm sharing the same way of living, we don't need to talk about politics, history and so on. We juswt talk about hat we love and what we want to do next. To make it simple, stop sharing time with people that don't make you happy and confident with yourself. There is enough people to do so. : )

  • wer ist katja?
    wer ist katja? 3 days ago


  • Elisabeth de La Monneraye

    Thank you it's so real, you're so right! Thanks to tell us...

  • •Tristanrylan•
    •Tristanrylan• 3 days ago



  • Reggie Milla
    Reggie Milla 3 days ago

    One of the best talks yet!!!🖒👍

  • Lilian Mganyizi
    Lilian Mganyizi 4 days ago

    Powerful. 😊. Thanks for sharing

  • Jeffrey Harrison
    Jeffrey Harrison 5 days ago

    Number 6 I might disagree with somewhat. Part of the conversational process is to relate to the other person. The way we do that is to relate similar experiences as a way to empathize, but don't overshadow their experience. Them: "I got bitten by a shark last week!" Me: "Sorry to hear that! I got attacked by a shoal of Piranha two weeks ago."

  • Tristan Bulluss
    Tristan Bulluss 5 days ago

    Sucks that isis is dead I wanted to see mass beheadings on the news. She deserves a beheading.

  • pablo rages
    pablo rages 5 days ago

    look at all the morons who put their hand up ... they unfriend someone because they had a different opinion than them

  • TheRealMahoot
    TheRealMahoot 6 days ago

    Hugh Jackman destroyed my career,

  • Jovial Jibber Jabber

    Listen --> Silent
    2 ears and 1 mouth, means we should only be talking up to half as much as we listen.

  • Shylock 104
    Shylock 104 7 days ago +1

    One of my good friends from university i met in the sandwich line in our cafeteria. He ordered pumpernickel and i was like "Yes dude! Thought i was the only one who ordered it" and suddenly we got to talking an the rest is history. Sometimes you just gotta put it out there and you'll be surprised about the kind of friendships you'll encounter

  • Jeff Bunn
    Jeff Bunn 7 days ago

    Yes!!!! Thank you!!!

  • Neonmirrorblack
    Neonmirrorblack 7 days ago

    I have a friend who just goes on and on and on and on and on and on feeling as though the minutest of details leading up to the actual point matters, and he absolutely hates it if you interrupt his five minute monologue and thinks that it's very rude to do so. That's not how conversations work. You don't just drone on about irrelevant stuff, and you aren't up on a stage giving a speech. The final point in this talk is exactly what he has never understood, and I've been friends with this person for two decades now. Phone "conversations" with him are excruciating, and typically by the time he is finally done talking, and I have the opportunity to get a word in, he has to go (work).

  • Peter Guyer
    Peter Guyer 7 days ago

    spoken words per minute is pretty consistent in academia, often a few words can speak a hundred. Id much prefer an autodidactic scholar ;)

  • Timothy Smith
    Timothy Smith 9 days ago +1

    I really feel that people don't know how to have even simple conversations anymore. It's all about stating opinions, complaining, or small talk. I have good friends that I've known most of my life, and for the life of me, I can't get any of them to engage intelligently on any subject we might have in common. And people don't ask questions, especially open ended ones. THEY KNOW EVERYTHING! And if you disagree, don't see it their way, you're just plain wrong and there is no point in discussing it further. It's no wonder I avoid people so much in my later years. Wish I could avoid them completely sometimes.

  • Ohio Ladybug
    Ohio Ladybug 9 days ago

    Excellent. I learned so much of what was never taught by people who didn’t know better.

  • tubestick00
    tubestick00 10 days ago

    Not trying to relate everything to your own similar experiences is I think one of the best points.
    I have been guilty of this myself many times and as soon as I do it I realise and cringe and it sort of disrupts the story the person is trying to tell me. They then need to come back to where they left off before I interrupted them with my own similar story.

  • jblester76
    jblester76 10 days ago

    Number 6, people, number 6.......

  • Chris Ward
    Chris Ward 10 days ago +1

    The problem today is we all live in a filtered digital bubble. They call it a "tailored experience". Anything we don't like, anything we disagree with, anything we find "offensive" is filtered out. Social media connects us with like minded people. So the art of debate has been lost. Without debate we can't learn anything new and we can't compromise on anything.

  • Aceox
    Aceox 11 days ago +1

    I highly disagree with the 'when someone talks about having lost someone, don't talk about when you lost one' part. While I agree that when a tragedy or loss happens, you shouldn't talk about your experience with that, but when it comes to things like depression, anxiety or anything similar then it's not about making yourself the topic, it's telling someone that you know how they feel and that you can empathize and relate by showing them that you have similar experience rather than just saying that you can relate, because then the usual response is 'you don't understand anything'.

    • Kevin Wilamowski
      Kevin Wilamowski 9 days ago

      Then maybe you just say, "I can relate to that" and leave it at that. If the other person asks about your situation then go ahead and discuss it if you are comfortable. Responding to someone's personal pain with examples of your own personal pain just seems to be redirecting the attention from that person to yourself.

  • Corey Winters
    Corey Winters 11 days ago

    one of the better TED T ive listened too. Thank you.

  • Roo-da-roo
    Roo-da-roo 12 days ago

    Note to self "Listen, listen Linda" ~Mateo (toddler)

  • Baughty Noy
    Baughty Noy 12 days ago +1

    anyone else hoping this title was going to cure social anxiety?

  • TLZ Inc.
    TLZ Inc. 12 days ago

    If you worry about the words coming out of your mouth?? and how the listener is receiving you?? then you are human.

  • Marcella Nagle
    Marcella Nagle 12 days ago

    I've never clicked so fast

  • Nelson's Rudolph
    Nelson's Rudolph 13 days ago

    Isn't Bill Nye part of that anti religious Richard Dawkins crowd ??

  • Nelson's Rudolph
    Nelson's Rudolph 13 days ago

    More divided than the Civil War ??

  • Rodrigo Oliveira
    Rodrigo Oliveira 13 days ago +1

    I loved it!

  • DeadByDawn74
    DeadByDawn74 13 days ago

    But what if both enter the conversation with this same approach? Both want to learn and listen and none of them will talk?

    • billofjazz
      billofjazz 12 days ago

      Review the 10 ways to engage in an interesting conversation and make it work for both of you.

  • Weedless Sword
    Weedless Sword 14 days ago

    Great job. Extraordinary!!!!! Sooooo on the money. Keep helping others with your intelligent knowledge. Good luck.

  • Jawad Tahmeed
    Jawad Tahmeed 14 days ago

    Lovely lady. She knows how to talk. Wish I could have her as my teacher.

  • Bernard Reilly
    Bernard Reilly 15 days ago

    Listening is a skill not usually taught by parents, teachers, coaches or much of anybody...

  • Englishsea24
    Englishsea24 15 days ago

    This isn't really something that can be taught, because everyones expectations are different. Most of us learn the hard way unfortunately and I think some are more people orientated than others, though I believe we all have one thing in common: we always put the blame on others, whether the other person is too quiet or too loud, or brings up something that doesn't suit us, IT'S ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSES FAULT😆

  • Gugha Singh
    Gugha Singh 15 days ago

    Fab 😘

  • selgeaus
    selgeaus 15 days ago +1

    But if both of them are actively "listening", who is doing the talking?

  • Endearment Sophia Parker
    Endearment Sophia Parker 16 days ago +3

    I find it so ridiculous when people say we're more....__________.... Than ever in history! It's hilarious... What are they comparing it to? The mass happiness studies that were done back in the dark ages?🤪. Or even 50 years ago? Ummmm probably not.

  • Shiann Gopaul
    Shiann Gopaul 16 days ago this!

  • Black shark swimmer
    Black shark swimmer 18 days ago

    I'm an introvert. I don't like ppl

  • billynair
    billynair 18 days ago

    why is the chair on the left twisted 5 degrees CCW?!?! was this a subliminal message of some sort? Maybe the kind of SYMBOLISM you are supposed to understand in movies etc if you are hip enough?

  • Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 19 days ago

    My problem is people only want to talk to me if they want advice. I have become such a good listener that I feel I am being used for this purpose only. People have no interest in listening to me. I know this is my fault as well. I dont go around offering advice either, I'm definitely not one of those people.

  • Neha I.
    Neha I. 19 days ago +2

    The only ONLY Ted talk I have ever listened completely :) . This is good..

  • Google This
    Google This 19 days ago

    I’m pretty sure you just saved a new multi family household.
    Thank you so very much.
    Life Hint: You should always come away from a conversation having learned something; if anything, Empathy.

  • evander
    evander 20 days ago

    I just can't find any sort of interest in the people around me

  • Stepha Holic
    Stepha Holic 20 days ago


  • Venice Sarmiento
    Venice Sarmiento 20 days ago

    i hate it when people i hang with are always on their phones like, why are you even here

  • Mickey Rourke
    Mickey Rourke 21 day ago

    I can't talk to people I don't like.

  • Brett Raio
    Brett Raio 21 day ago +1

    I appreciate the two guys in the beginning near the front who aren't scared of talking with people. That's some toxic stuff right there, and 99% of the room has raised hands. Also, the climate has always changed, and vaccinations can't be tested, so why inject them into your children? Both are used, at least to an extent to scare people... clearly it's working, but still hasn't fooled these two guys. Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, don't live scared, follow Jesus Christ, He is Freedom from the bondage of sin! You are important, God Bless you

  • r011ing_thunder
    r011ing_thunder 21 day ago

    What she say?

  • The Master Host
    The Master Host 22 days ago

    Great message, loads of takeaways - thanks!

  • Rahul Kaushik #RvK
    Rahul Kaushik #RvK 22 days ago

    Amazing what a video! Thanks ted team

  • Will Winn
    Will Winn 22 days ago +1

    It's funny too many people listen , only long enough to find out what it takes to control the conversation..
    Everyone should " listen " to this , instead of just hearing it..
    Be sure to share..👍

  • Will Winn
    Will Winn 22 days ago +2

    What great advice , too bad i can't get my mother to listen to this .
    But , it's not about her ..
    Great stuff 👍

    • billofjazz
      billofjazz 12 days ago

      I know, huh? Where is that course about training our parents to listen to what WE have to say that is important to us as individuals?

  • Michael
    Michael 22 days ago

    Smh I wish I watched this the moment it was released.

  • Nordisk Culture
    Nordisk Culture 23 days ago

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww she so cute

  • Mike Jones
    Mike Jones 23 days ago

    If politicians would obey even half of these, they would be better.

  • Tim Hansen
    Tim Hansen 23 days ago

    Everyone in the audience: "LAUGH - I know right! Why won't people listen to me? If only everyone else in the world knew this!"

  • Rabiatul Adawiah Mohd Azmi

    This talk makes me become an open-minded person and I love it so much. Thank you.

  • Quỳnh Anh Hoàng
    Quỳnh Anh Hoàng 25 days ago

    I usually share my same situation when my friends talk about their experiences in something, much like some challenges in working or family issues. Because I thought the conversation would be better if we used to in the same situation. Isnt it true? Now I recognize "Don’t equate your experience with theirs". How is this way of conversation be avoided?

  • Samruddhi Joshi
    Samruddhi Joshi 26 days ago +3

    ❤️ from india
    Hat’s off
    Mind blowing conversation skills 👌🏻

  • Adrian Talukder Year 10
    Adrian Talukder Year 10 26 days ago +1

    Who knew talking was so complicated

  • irelia 577ksj
    irelia 577ksj 26 days ago

    1:12 thanks to the chosen few

  • Lottie Cooper
    Lottie Cooper 27 days ago +14

    I RARELY type comments-this is one of the BEST talks I have made me go "HMMM.." many times. I intend to listen to it several times so I can really begin to implement these beautiful ways of being in conversation.

  • craycrayhead
    craycrayhead 27 days ago

    words just dont come into my mind