I owe apologies to nearly anyone with whom I have had a conversation with in the last, forever! I hoped I was a good listener (the first commandment of the conversationalist’s bible). I have come to understand that I have a long way to go. My day is only five hours old, and I have had three conversations in which someone was telling me a gripping moment in their life. Did I have an empathic response? Nope. I told them a story that I thought might be even more gripping (in my own head) that happened to me. Each one of those episodes was an opportunity to be a true friend to another, but I made the subconscious choice to offer a competitive story.
I sat in a meeting a few months back and Celeste Headlee’s TED talk was shown. TED talks are a series of oral presentations revolving around Technology, Entertainment, or Design. I have heard Ms. Headlee on National Public Radio, as well as a few other avenues in the last ten years. Her TED talk, “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” was spellbinding. It was one of the top TED talks in 2016, with over 12 million listeners. In a little over 11 minutes, I recognized how much I had to learn about how to REALLY communicate. I have many bad habits to break, and one of those is offering a story of my own to compete with a personal story someone has just shared with me.
The Chamber is delighted to have Celeste as the speaker at our annual meeting on February 20 at the Statesville Civic Center. We will showcase our organizational successes over the last year and give awards to some incredibly deserving businesses and individuals in our community. In and of itself, that makes for a great evening. But we quest for more.
During last year’s local election cycle, the cry for greater, deeper, more transparent communication was loud and clear. That is easy to request but awfully hard to do and almost impossible if we don’t have the personal tools and habits to do it. We can’t expect to be understood if we don’t choose to first, understand. In a conversation, many of us, and I will ashamedly claim personal ownership, fail to really take in the power of the words, because we are waiting for the next pause so we can chime in. We believe that Celeste will encourage us, individually and collectively, to commit to having more engaging conversations.
At this meeting, we will roll out our aggressive Strategic Plan for 2018-2020. A critical component of this plan is a very intentional effort to bridge the gaps that separate us. With a robust economy, driven by one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan centers, we must learn how to better communicate with each other as we discuss our needs and priorities with open minds. There aren’t many places in the country where the stars have aligned for economic growth as they have in this part of Iredell County. It will take a lot of good ol’ conversatin’ to get there. Join us on February 20 to start that conversation off on the right foot. For tickets, please call the Chamber office at 704-253-3128.