Now is the time to champion deep and meaningful conversations, that’s what I’m doing here today.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” –Aristotle
There’s a wide range of emotions that might occur during these uncertain times. They can range from anxiety and trepidation to angst and stress. Oftentimes, there’s a sense of loneliness during these periods of isolation. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it’s important to note that there are things we have the power to control and those we do not.
As humans, we crave connection, especially with our loved ones. So why don’t we own the fact that we can ignite more purposeful and meaningful conversations during this time? More directly, we can control some of the topics of conversation. If you show up ready and willing to set the tone by asking the type of questions that can lead to reflection and storytelling, you’ve taken a big step in the direction of connection and creating a more meaningful experience of life yourself.
Why is it important?
Learning to start and develop meaningful conversations can be a relief to the people who feel isolated during this time. Isolation can spark an anxious voice in your head. Having meaningful conversations can turn down that voice and can shift perspectives and thoughts.
Deep conversations can attract positivity with much more ease too. It is not everybody’s cup of tea to engage in deep conversations. You can help others find them appealing by making them enjoyable, and making them safe.
Deep conversations can become a more attractive proposition when we talk about deep topics and real things. Gossip rarely leads to deep conversations. Those who appreciate life, know the value of real things, they find it easier and more natural to engage in deep conversations. Others might find it difficult to understand them or the point in them if they are entrenched in a more superficial small talk style all or most of the time. One way or another though, deep conversations can act as meditation and medication. They can be a tonic for a troubled mind.
These conversations can also make you happier. People who have more substantive conversations with others report a greater sense of well-being than those who only engage in small talk, according to research led by Matthias Mehl, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona. Those findings, first reported in a 2010 study of 79 college students, have recently been replicated in a larger, unpublished study of 500 adults led by Anne Milek, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Mehl.
“Whether a plane to Singapore, a subway in Manhattan, or the streets of Cincinnati, I search for meaningful conversation wherever I may travel. Without it, I believe we lose the ability to not only understand others, but more importantly, ourselves.” – Dhani Jones
Here are 5 actionable tips that can help you create deeper, more meaningful conversations.
It starts with you. Making meaningful conversation means that you are interested in meaningful things to talk about. It means that you are a thinker, a dreamer, and someone who enjoys delving into the finer depths of life.
Get bold with yourself. Let go. You may be playing it safe and holding back from the possibilities of opening up something interesting, fun, revealing, and juicy. As well as topics that you are passionate about, ask about topics you feel strongly about or are curious about and wish to explore further.
Asking questions and actually listening to their answers is the best way to make people open up and talk about things they actually care about. Not everyone will, but more people than you think.
“Conversation isn’t about proving a point; true conversation is about going on a journey with the people you are speaking with.” – Ricky Maye
Questions that allow them to talk about their passions or to tell you a story are good. Be a bit like a journalist or a detective or a curious scientist. Questions that invite yes/no answers are limited; questions that invite one-word answers are not so helpful to bring deep conversations. But open ended-questions make people tell meaningful stories or answers. They provide depth and a richness and can express themselves more.
When people respond to your questions; listen. We’ve all heard that listening skills are vital but very few people are aware of the right way to do it. Engage in true, active listening.
Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and focus on what they’re saying right now. Be curious and ask to hear more about what interests you. Listening isn’t shutting up. Listening is having nothing to say. There’s a difference there. If you just shut up, it means you’re still thinking about what you wanted to say. You’re just not saying it.
Honesty, trust and no judgments:
No-one likes being judged. So communicate while suspending judgment and the conversation will open up and things have the chance to go deeper. Honesty, trust and open-mindedness are key ingredients. Let the conversation steer in to any direction. If you can empathise with that person and them with you, then you are well on your way to having a “deep” talk.
When you are with people or a person who you have a good relationship with, let yourself go and talk from the heart. Whatever diverse topic you cover, or even if it is current affairs, or abstract discussions, or reflecting on recent experiences, create a safe environment for deep conversation by being trustworthy and non-judgmental.
Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them. Keep non-judgmental validation at the forefront of your mind when in conversation. Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them. It doesn’t mean you agree with someone. Validation is taking the time to understand what their needs, wants, dreams and aspirations are.
Don’t plan to guide the conversation:
Reveal yourself in only the most universal of ways to begin with. Drop any personal agenda, it can scare people if you have a set direction. Making meaningful conversation is not necessarily an invitation for therapy though it can be therapeutic.
“Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing.” – Oscar Wilde
Remain positive, full, and in the moment. Let something be born. All good conversation is unplanned, unsolicited. It has it’s own life. Be a conduit for that and you will begin to change from the drabness of the two-dimensional to a more deep connection through conversation without agendas.
One way to ensure you are not directing things too much is to suspend ego. Ego suspension is putting your own needs, wants and opinions aside. Consciously ignore your desire to be correct and to correct someone else. It’s not allowing yourself to get emotionally hijacked by a situation where you might not agree with someone’s thoughts, opinions or actions. You do not have to agree, just suspend your own ego and let a conversation go deeper as you both feel safer.
Let it flow:
Then stop thinking so much, and let it happen. Let it flow. Enjoy the richness and diversity and stimulation that arises.
Each person, no matter who they are, has a wealth of knowledge, skills and experiences that we know nothing of. They have passions, fears, hopes, dreams, and stories that have shaped who they are and what they believe. They also have a sense of humour, and human emotions just like you. There is so much to discover in every person and every conversation.
“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” – Yogi Berra
A lot of times, people feel as if they need to “make” a conversation meaningful, but doesn’t need to be forced. Be gentle, be well intentioned, and let things flow as you question, enquire, suspend judgment and ego and dive deep. Cut through the weather and the social niceties, and ask about something real and interesting. Then, listen actively! It will lead into a deeper discussion, or another topic, or a similar experience you’ve had that you can share. After this goes on for a while, it will just continue to flow naturally. And there you have it! Enjoy your more meaningful communications, I think you’ll feel so much better for it.
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