We’ve all been there.
“Hey! How are you?”
“I’m doing great, you?”
Not all of our conversations are stellar, and for many people conversations can be downright difficult or stressful. It’s easy to go on autopilot and ask generic questions, only to give generic answers right back.
I think that the quality and depth of our conversations can have one of the biggest positive impacts in how fulfilled and happy we are.
We are relational beings. Regardless of if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there is a natural need for human connection and community.
One of the concerns of the technology age we’re in is that our relationships are suffering. Social media is slowly replacing face to face relationships for many, and as a result one of the first things to go is the ability to have a good, deep conversation. It’s easier to scroll through social media than it is to ask a friend about something meaningful or challenging.
Even with those who we’re close to, there is a temptation to use your phone rather than start a real conversation.
I don’t think it will be beneficial for our well-being or for our society if we continue to let our conversations deteriorate. So, here are a few ways I recommend to improve your conversations:
Talk about what interests the other person
Not everyone is good at having a conversation. While that may be frustrating at times, if you want to have meaningful conversations you have to take responsibility to make them meaningful. A great way to engage another person is to ask them about their interests, and then ask questions about those interests. If they catch on they’ll probably end up asking you about your interests and you’ll have a nice balanced as well as engaging conversation.
A conversation dies without questions. If you want your conversations to have meaning, you need to ask the questions that will take you there.
This seems obvious but it’s easy to get distracted in a conversation. Take mental notes as the other person talks, this will help you to ask follow up questions.
Look the other person in the eye & make facial expressions
Looking someone in the eye lets them know that they have your full attention. People want to feel valued and heard, and there’s no better way to do that then actually looking at the person. Facial expressions will further confirm that you are listening and have reactions to their words.
Put your phone away
Nothing stalls a conversation like you pulling out your phone and checking for updates. When we do this we’re essentially telling the other person that our phone is more important to us in that moment than they are. Your phone will be okay, put it in your pocket and look at the other person. Also, it’s flat out rude and it really shouldn’t be as socially acceptable as it is. This one can be very tough to implement though.
If you are willing to be honest and vulnerable first, then that will help the other person to open up to you as well. Some vulnerability needs to happen for a conversation to have depth. If you don’t ever provide good answers, why should anyone tell you anything?
So many conversations have the same questions followed by the same answers. Try to find out new things about a person and how they view the world. If you ask unique questions then you’ll get unique answers.
Be the leader
Don’t wait for someone else to lead you into a deep conversation and add value to your life. If you don’t want all of your conversations to stay on the surface, then it’s up to you to lead the plunge. If you’re sitting in your living room with a friend and you’re both staring at your phone, put yours down first and ask your friend what they have been learning in life lately (or whatever you want to ask).
Conversations are how friendships grow and where new relationships are born, and the main goal of all of this is to be intentional with the people in your life. There is so much goodness and power in being vulnerable in front of another person. Look at your relationships right now, do they feel like they’re staying near the surface? If so, take it upon yourself to take the lead and take a dive. It’s a heck of a lot better than asking “how are you?” over and over again for the rest of your life.