Don't give me advice, help me find it myself. A guide to good conversations.

We all have different views of the world and different masks.

I am often given advice “do this” or “don’t do that” and it is often a challenge to not be influenced by a friends or family view on something. Yet, what works for them is likely to not work for you as much as they might be convinced it would.

When we give advice we influence the person more than we think. It is also a way of telling them that they don’t have the resources to discover the solution themselves.

Finding yourself the solution to a problem or working around it is much more powerful than following anyone’s advice.

The alternative to giving advice is to listen, ask how you can help and instead of advice use “this is what helped me, it might not work for you […]”

I rewrote my post answering “How can I be more spiritual” into more “Here is what worked for me” and also added many ideas that came after I wrote it. It’s a work in progress.

Celeste Headlee has an excellent talk on how to have “better conversations” with 10 recommendations for a good conversation.

If you disagree with someone or find that person annoying, you can still have a conversation and listen. Take it as a meditation. Don’t judge. Don’t say the person is wrong. See it as an interview. Be curious.

  1. Don’t multitask. Be present. Listen deeply. Don’t think about anything else or leave the conversation

  2. Don’t pontificate. Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. Set aside your personal opinion. Everyone you meet has something to teach you.

  3. Use open-ended questions. Let them describe. What was it like? How did it feel. Make the other think.

  4. Go with the flow. Questions, ideas and thoughts will come to your mind while the other speaks. Let them come and go instead of focusing on them focus on the person talking.

  5. If you don’t know say that you don’t know.

  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they’re talking about having lost a family member, don’t talk about how you lost a family member. It is not about you. Not about how amazing you are or how much you suffered. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

  7. Try not repeating yourself

  8. Stay out of details. People care about you, not the details. Watch the eyes of the person in front of you if you see them moving away you’re giving too much detail or you’re too long already.

  9. Listen. Naturally we like to talk instead of listening. The average person talks at about 225 words per minute but we can listen at more than 500 words per minute.

  10. Be brief. Keep your mouth shut and always be prepared to be amazed.

Be interested in other people and less in talking about yourself.