No one listens, everyone waits for the opportunity to speak for themselves.
Do you ever have the feeling that the other person you’re talking to is wearing a mask – just saying what you want to hear?
No connection, no meaning.
What I want for my conversations is a sincere contact from person to person – no masks. Authenticity. Each in its own rarity. With humour and with topics I can identify with; it means something to me.
It is not always possible, but I try to have such conversations at parties, conferences, etc. They inspire me, and contact with others is good for me. I just like being real – without a mask.
That’s why I’ve searched through my experiences: What can I do concretely to bring the conversations to a “deeper” level – to make them more meaningful?
In this article I have also collected the opinions/wisdom of many different authors. Here you will find 10 tips to make a conversation meaningful.
Are you ready? No more boring conversations? Here is the first tip:
Listening as part of a conversation
Have you ever had conversations in which nobody really listens? In which you both wait for the next opportunity to spit out your own thoughts which often have little to do with what the other person said before?
Perhaps you know of other conversations in which the other person listens to you and is completely with you.
Listening is a good way to get in touch with the other person.
It is a good way to show respect, appreciation and interest in the other person.
Be present while listening and do not judge the person or what they say.
By doing this, you create a space in which fun, creative and where the connection can be expressed in a natural way.
Open conversations with a positive note
It is tempting to start a conversation, for example with the sentence “That restaurant is terrible, the food sucked.”
What are the chances you want to have a conversation when it starts like that?
I’ve opened a lot of those conversations myself.
But I find it much nicer to start a conversation on a positive note.
“Have you tried hummus? It’s delicious!”
What you ask and how you ask it makes a difference.
“Do you have a blog?” “Are you an entrepreneur?”
With questions like these, you ask the other person to answer with either a yes or no. This is not the basis for an interesting conversation.
Ask open ended questions that are unusual and surprising – questions that make your counterpart think. This makes a conversation more interesting.
Marshal Rosenberg was known to ask the following question:
“What is the most fun you have in your life right now?”
I am happy to ask you the same question. Almost nobody can answer it spontaneously. After careful consideration, the question gives the conversation a certain depth.
It’s not only important what you ask, but how you ask it.
“What are you doing?” “How old are you?”
These can be questions that make other people feel questioned (and judged).
If you ask questions, don’t do it in a questioning attitude, but with an open attitude.
The biggest conversation killer
Immigrants are like this and like that. The neighbor is so and so. Society is this and that. Politics is this and that.
Have you ever heard people talk like this?
For me, judging others is the biggest killer in conversations.
Many people like to talk about these things, but what’s the use? Can we judge politics without being politicians ourselves? Can we judge the neighbour without knowing exactly what his life is like?
Instead of talking/judging about others, it is much more interesting to know: What does it matter to you? How do you feel when politics does this and that? How do you feel when society does this and that?
I don’t want to hear your judgements. I want to know what goes on inside you. I want to be able to refer to your experience: I know what it’s like to feel pain or anger at current politics. It’s human. It connects us.
What are you grateful for?
When you talk about politics and society, it’s usually about what’s wrong.
Why don’t we talk about what is right and what we are grateful for?
Perhaps you have heard about this small fishing village in Riace, Italy. The village takes in all refugees, and living together works very well: there are no protests.
I told someone this in a conversation. And the other person told me about other projects like this. We talked for two hours about the projects we know of that contribute to social change. Our eyes lit up, and we inspired each other.
When we got up from the table, we were enriched by the contact, the hope and the gratitude that came out of our conversation.
Taking the attitude of learners
We can learn from anyone. Everyone has a wealth of experience within themselves. All you have to do is discover these experiences.
With this attitude you automatically arrive at a real intention of interest.
Recently I met a creative therapist with whom I had a mutual friend. I listened with interest and curiosity and wanted to learn more about his stories and background.
When you take the attitude of an intern, others like to be with you because you show a real interest in them.
Vulnerability means saying yes to all the feelings and needs that exist.
Vulnerability means giving up what you should be and becoming what you are.
Failures, challenges and difficult experiences. Share them with others, don’t overwhelm them, but when it suits you, open up. Be human with your challenges, but also with your successes.
In everyday conversations we rarely create a space where we can be ourselves naturally.
We complain about others. We want to impress others. We want to make others happy. We talk more about our judgements about others than about ourselves.
So when you are in a conversation, be yourself, in your own strange way. In this way you contribute to an atmosphere in which people can be natural and easily real.
Vulnerability also has a lot to do with honesty: You say what you want to say, feel and need, not what an inner voice tells you.
You can be honest in at least two different ways: you can share your thoughts – your judgments, your thoughts and your evaluations.
You can also honestly say what you feel and need and translate your judgments into needs.
This may take some effort at first – but it is usually worth it.
Are you still having a boring conversation?
Not every conversation can be successful. Apply the steps of this article. Take the attitude of an apprentice. Ask unusual questions.
Perhaps the conversation has not yet begun. That’s all right. As soon as you realize you don’t want to, give permission to leave and say goodbye. If you don’t like the conversation, the other person won’t like it either.
So, my question to you is: What are the conversations that have made you feel incredibly rich? And what has contributed to your conversational experience?