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We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter
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We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,398 ratings  ·  237 reviews

In this urgent and insightful book, public radio journalist Celeste Headlee shows us how to bridge what divides us--by having real conversations

NPR's Best Books of 2017

Winner of the 2017 Silver Nautilus Award in Relationships & Communication

“We Need to Talk is an important read for a conversationally-cha
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Harper Wave
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,398 ratings  ·  237 reviews

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Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
Lots of nuggets of wisdom regarding good communication skills, and in particular conversation skills, in this book. After all, "Good conversation doesn't happen naturally, though most of us assume the opposite." (p. 35) Honest and to the point, Headlee's strategies will help you improve your conversation skills, as well as know and understand others better.
Liza Fireman
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book can be summarized in a few short sentences, maybe one for the most part. We need to listen, and actually talk less. This is an important lesson, since we tend to talk and not listen much, and we tend to talk about ourselves.

As recited in the book: Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking, and to turn the focus of the exchange to yoursel
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Headlee is a news show host on NPR whose primary business is interviewing people and learning from what they tell her. In this book, she uses her own observations backed up with current research to present several ways we can improve the quality of our conversations. Headlee argues that with Americans more divided than at any time in recent history, we are losing the ability to have civil, engaged conversations. The strategies she presents are not necessarily new or groundbreaking, but help us t ...more
Leigh Kramer
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Celeste Headlee believes conversation can change the world and after reading her book We Need To Talk, I agree.

Good conversations increase our empathy and they help us consider other points of view, whether it's a political issue or how to handle a tricky situation at work or even a helpful tip related to a household chore. We walk away understanding ourselves and the other person better than we did before.

This, of course, takes work. More importantly, it takes self-awareness. Most of us believe
“The attempt to change somebody’s mind is the death of good conversation.”

The ability to hold good conversations has become important to me; the skill for both listening and speaking is one that I would like to sharpen.

I came across We Need To Talk via a podcast where I heard the author speak of her work. She made a positive impression. I became curious about her book. The book did not disappoint.

Within the pages I found many good and practical pointers to improve conversation for both speaking
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, audiobooks, borrowed
This is a topic that's become deeply important to me over the last few years - both as someone who publishes conversations as podcasts, and in my daily life. We could all listen more - all make a deeper effort to engage.

A lot of what Headlee brings up hit bullseyes for here's hoping it will help me be a better listener and a better conversationalist.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that you may already heard of it's content multiple times before but you still need to read it to refresh your mind and to give a bit more effort to understand and think about what the author is saying to fully grasp the meaning behind it all and it's implications.

I really enjoyed reading about this and it has made me think about many of the conversations I had, the ones I try to avoid, the ones I listen to half-heartedly, the ones where I can't wait for the person to shut up
Aliya Janjua
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Must read for how to communicate.
Don't be shifter, be a supporter.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Journalist and radio host Celeste Headlee, in her well-organized and nicely researched work of non-fiction, "We Need to Talk," suggests that too many of us do not listen attentively or communicate effectively. In an age of instant messaging, surfing the Web, Facebook, and email, how often do we have more than a cursory chat with our relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues? Although superficial exchanges are the stuff of everyday life, there are instances when hearing what someone else has ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, book-club
A few chaffing points, but even before I finished reading the book I *immediately* became better at conversing with others, which is help that I really need and want. Highly recommend, especially as we approach Thanksgiving 😉
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I believe with all my heart that we have a window of opportunity right now to make things better in our world and it starts with an act as simple as saying hello to your neighbor. So put away your smartphone for just a moment and go talk to someone. Better yet, go listen to someone. People will surprise you. They will delight you, enlighten you and sometimes anger you. But if you can get past the superficial chit-chat most of us mistake as conversation, people will never bore you."

This book was
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Helpful in this post-Trump era.
Robert Cox
Overall a quick easy read with some insightful points about conversation that can have application in real life. Some are things we might know already but need reminded of:

-We cannot multitask. I do this all the time, try to hold a conversation and write or read an email. Just doesn’t work.

-Going into a conversation with the intent of changing someone’s mind is more often than not a suicide mission. However listening to viewpoints that you disagree with and allowing the person to explain themsel
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If asked, “Are you a good driver?” What would you say? How about a good listener? “Of course,” I’d reply, without looking up from my smartphone.

Our perceptions often don’t match how we are perceived. And common sense isn’t that common after all.

Celeste Headlee provides a reality check while teaching her readers the most valuable skill; how to listen.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I initially thought the title "We Need to Talk" was a bit dramatic, but Headlee is passionate and convincing about the merits of meaningful conversation and the risks of our deteriorating ability to listen and communicate to ourselves and society; there were many times while reading this book that I found myself nodding along enthusiastically. Headlee frames these benefits and risks at the personal AND global scale, showing the stakes, especially in these divisive times, of being unable or unwil ...more
Kevin Lin
I picked up this book after listening to an interview with Celeste in a podcast. She mentioned a few interesting pointers about conversations and piqued my curiosity enough that I got her book.

"We Need to Talk" makes the case for in the importance of conversation in society and some practical advice in having good conversations. It's a short read that could have been a quarter of its size and still gotten the same points across.

The book is divided into two halves. The first half tries to establi
Alisa Wilhelm
This book is based on NPR show host Celeste Headlee's TED Talk, "10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation."

The 10 points in the talk each have a corresponding chapter in the book. The points are:
1. Don't multitask - be fully in or fully out of the conversation.
2. Don't pontificate.
3. Use open ended questions.
4. Go with the flow / Travel together.
5. If you don't know, say that you don't know.
6. Don't equate your experience with theirs.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
9. Li
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Headlee had me at her dedication, “For Grant: I wanted to be a better person so I could be a better mom.”  I think this speaks to so many parents out there.
This book is so timely in our current politicized environment and she touches on having discussions with people who differ on politics as well as having productive discussions with your boss or employees.
Did you know humans now have the attention span of a goldfish?  Technology over the last few years has made up skim and look for sound bites
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had a hard time rating this book. On one hand, it has its shortcomings: repetitions, diving into unnecessary detail, some inconsistencies between chapters. On the other hand, it introduced me to a few very important concepts and made me look at the way I'm having the conversations. I agree with a general premise of the book – we need to talk with each other more and we need to consciously improve the way we do it.

The key takeaways are the model of a good conversation as a friendly game of c
Jennifer Trovato
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the book I've been wanting to read for a while. It is very practical while enjoyable to read. I'm walking away with things that I can really work on to make my conversations rise above small to talk. She focused a lot on having conversations with those that you can't imagine being able to talk with and I appreciated how she sees that everyone has a right to express their opinion. Your main goal is to listen as a means to really try to understand someone else's view. She makes the analogy ...more
Susan Fouche
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was one of them, the not so present listener who is always in a hurry because the pressure is always on. This book changed things for me. I look at conversations with fresh eyes and listen with fresh ears. My favourite phrase: Be present or be gone!

“It’s not about what someone can do for you, it’s who and what the two of you become in each other’s presence. Headlee, Celeste. We Need To Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (Kindle Locations 392-393). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edi
Roxanne Darling
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful Info Yet Still a Conundrum

I enjoyed learning about many of the research studios and the many ways communication and conversation have been studied. I spotted some areas where I can improve. I appreciated the author’s willingness to share some of her personal experiences.

In an odd way, the book itself could get caught in the weeds, from the author’s earnest attempt to make her points in favor of improving conversation skills.

This book is one that asks not just to be read, but to be practi
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lindsay by: Gina
That was fabulous! I was thoroughly engrossed from beginning to end. There's a lot here that makes so much sense, but I'd never *really* thought of it before. I feel like I identified so many of my own flaws in how I converse with others...I'm such a jerk! This has definitely rewired the way I experience and value interactions with other people and will hopefully influence me to become a better friend, family member, and colleague to all those I encounter. Bonus: the audio is superb! Short and s ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's one particular paragraph that beautifully sums this book: "All too often, our conversations are like the worst kind of music concert. Imagine a violinist playing one piece of music while the pianist plays another. They can be friendly and watch each other and nod all they want, but the end result will be cacophony if they aren't on the same page of sheet music." (p.g. 217). I highly recommend this book to everyone as we could universally use conversational support. I intend to go back th ...more
Betsey Strater
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book, if you’re ready to cringe at yourself a little... or a lot. This practice is super accessible and I’ve already begun making changes and seeing a difference. A lot of this material is pretty intuitive and this is still a great resource for reflection and includes practical applications for improving our relationships.

I’ll be revisiting this material frequently. I just wish there was more!
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book when I had a bad conversation with my acquaintance. That conversation with him let me realize I was neither engaged in the conversation nor empathetic. In other words I was not "listening", I was hearing what I expect him to tell.

This book taught me a lot. My insincere attitude/words/actions can hurt someone's feelings. When I have no mental energy to be engaged in a conversation I'd better politely walk away. Other than this, this book offers various valuable lifelon
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A great read for everyone. Learned some fun stuff.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. This is a great book for ANYONE. Learn how to have a good conversation and just shut-up and listen. Tips and tricks. Also, multi-tasking is NOT A THING.
Emily Keener
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed "reading" this book. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author (She has a radio show and has a great voice!). The stories she tells and the studies she cites are very interesting. The information about bias and empathy was thought-provoking. I recommend it!
Nic Ayson
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read, thoroughly enjoyed the material and the easy, accessible way in which is was presented.
If you have a moment, her Ted talk is a good starter to see if her style interests you:
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“We must learn how to talk to one another and, more important, listen to one other. We must learn to talk to people we disagree with, because you can’t unfriend everyone in real life.” 4 likes
“Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking, and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. It is often subtle and unconscious” 3 likes
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