Ever had a conversation so rich that you walked away smiling? Or inspired? Or challenged? Or wiser? Sometimes it feels like, with all of our social media, our talk is stuck at surface level and great conversations are a lost art. Feeling trapped in a permanent swirl of shallow conversations is a quick way to feel lonely in the middle of a crowd. But there’s hope!
If you’d like to:
- connect more deeply with the people you talk to
- learn more every day
- feel more known and rooted in your community
- be a better friend
… keep reading. Today we’re sharing our secrets to better conversations.
LOOK FOR THE LIGHT
There’s something that happens when we talk about the things we love. We light up. Even the most reserved person may become more animated when you strike on the right topic. Eyes get bigger. Gestures get grander. Smiling happens. Words just flow. Great conversationalists zero in on what lights a person up and then they open up space to explore that thing, together.
Think about it – don’t you love it when someone asks you about the stuff that you love?
Fascinating conversations are specific. Boring ones are vague. And I don’t mean specific like, “I went to lunch today and my burrito was $7.64.” I mean specific like, when someone asks you how your trip was, launching into the story of your midnight, winding motorcycle ride through the jungle to the natural hot springs and the 70-pound monkey that jumped into the road on the way … instead of saying, “Amazing! The jungles were unreal.”
When you’re specific, it’s easier for the person you’re talking with to find jumping off points for where the conversation goes next.
Sometimes a deep conversation about hurts or the news or human nature turns heavy. You can be the one to bring hope to the facts and conclusions you’ve come to, together.
Here’s how you can do create more hope in your conversations:
- Encourage the other person. Remind them that they have an attribute that helps to solve the problem.
- Identify (and celebrate) a positive “counter-force” … for example, if you’re talking about the state of factory farm meats and chemical-laden produce, point out how cool it is that so many people are getting excited about growing their own food and shopping for local produce at farmers’ markets.
- If it feels appropriate, invite the other person to take some small action with you
- Dream about solutions and best case scenarios together
LEARN HOW TO BOUNCE
So you’ve told the jungle story after they asked about your trip. While the energy is still high, “bounce” the “ball” back into the other person’s court by inviting them to share about themselves … something like, “Wait! You just got a motorcycle license, right? What made you decide to go for it?”
ASK QUESTIONS (AND SHARE THOUGHTS) THAT PEEL BACK LAYERS
What kinds of things did you learn from _______________?
How did you feel when ______________?
What are you looking forward to?
What was going through your head when _________________?
What was that like?
What inspired you to ___________________?
And when the things you share in conversations are inspired by the answers to questions like these, the person you’re talking to will feel like they’re getting to know you in a deeper way. That opens the door of trust for them to share more of themselves with you.
I know it sounds crazy. But it’s not. Journaling is the perfect way to practice thinking more deeply about your life. And once you get it down on paper, all of that pattern-finding and meaning-making and story-inscribing will make you a much richer well of thoughts in your conversation.