Do you ever dread going to parties and having boring conversations are going to networking events and having shallow conversations about things you don’t care about?
This blog is about having conversations that develop more authentic connections and allow you to go deeper.
I have a coach at the Rao Institute, for a course called the creativity and personal mastery course that really dives deeper into our human experience and helps you craft a journey of profound well-being and fulfillment. Through this course, I am continually impressed about how the conversations go deeper to the things that we really care about and things that really matter.
Instead of conversations that simply pass the time, these conversations take a look at how we view the world and creating an environment where people’s ideas come together to create something better. But from this course, there are some things that we can take away to have more authentic conversations in our daily life.
1) Be Present
When you’re speaking with somebody, give them your full attention. In the creativity and personal mastery course, we have an exercise where we pause the 10 deep breaths before we jump into the exercise for the week. Now, I’m not saying you need to take 10 deep breaths before you have a conversation with anybody, but even just taking one conscious breath, paying attention to that coming in and out can ground you so that you are more present and you have a break between whatever you were doing previously.
We have so much going on in our lives, and it’s very helpful to be able to take a break and just be fully with the task that’s at hand.
2) Shut up and listen
When somebody is talking with you, just listen to what they’re saying and fully listen. Don’t be planning in your ahead what you’re going to say next, don’t interrupt them. Don’t jump in and try to one up them with a story about you.
Allow somebody to have that magic of just being listened to. It’s a very precious commodity these days we’re so consumed with our own lives that we don’t listen to what’s going on in other people’s lives. So when you you’re talking to somebody and they’re sharing something, just listen attentively.
It’s okay to respond and ask for more information and develop that conversation further, but don’t try to solve a problem. Don’t try to judge what’s being said. Just be present with what is coming out and what somebody’s speaking about.
And it’s crazy how magical this is. If you were really there for somebody, when they’re speaking, they’re going to remember that conversation a lot more than most other interactions that they have, because it is so rare that people are fully listened to.
3) Be Vulnerable
Now, I don’t mean this in the sense of share all your deepest, darkest flaws, because that’s not helpful, but by being vulnerable, I mean, share where you want to grow.
So when you’re in a conversation with somebody open up with what you’re struggling with and where the world could help you. It may not be the other person that that needs to jump in and help, but just share with what you find difficult about it and what you’re trying to figure out. There’s something we’re all looking to grow with and overcome.
And the more we share where we are and what we’re facing and put that out into the world, the more likely something’s going to come back.
I’m continually surprised how many, you know, problems that we think we have, which many other people have had exactly the same problem. And when you share that, they can relate.
And sometimes people have come up with great solutions, which haven’t crossed your mind, or maybe they know somebody who’s mastered this particular thing, and they can connect you with that person. This type of sharing develops much better connections than just sharing, “Hey, here’s what I accomplished and what I’m great at and why you need to hire me to be your X, Y, and Z.”
4) Be Curious
The more I speak with people all around the globe, the more I realized how similar everyone is. Everyone has interesting stories, something to contribute, but quite often we approach people and think that, “Hey, they might be boring, or we have nothing to relate to them.”
In 2012, when I was volunteering with the Samaritan I was talking to one of my fellow volunteers about how some people, I felt like we had conversations that really opened up where I could really relate with the person and others, where it just felt flat. This fellow volunteer explained that she had gone through the same thing, but over time she found she could relate to everyone that she spoke with.
It was a skill that she had developed and partly through the curiosity of listening. And just looking for that story and for the experience that was going on underneath. Ultimately there’s some level of suffering that’s part of our human experience that we all share. And there’s ways to get to that to see really what interesting story lies beneath the surface.
So put on your detective hat and pull that story out.
Quite often people drop hints about what they care about, what they’re passionate about. And if you’re listening carefully, you’ll hear that and you’ll be able to go in deeper. Maybe they run a dog rescue in their spare time, or perhaps they volunteer with a local soup kitchen. Maybe they are stressed about their kids getting into college. And they’re trying to figure out that part of their life too.
There’s always something listen for the hints that people are dropping and see if you can pick up on them and find the deeper story that’s attached to that
5) Don’t identify with your opinions
Opinions are great. It gives our life edge and distinction. It gives us refined tastes and ways to make ourselves better. But sometimes in a conversation, our opinions and our views of how the world is, hold us back from seeing how things really are or new possibilities of what might be.
When I say don’t identify with your opinions what I mean is understand that your opinions are simply a matter of taste and they’re not fixed in the world.
When you’re open to other ways of seeing things and other possibilities. And even come to expect that, then you’ll find that the world is a mysterious place and can really surprise you with new things.
When you’re hold on to your opinions too tightly, then it’s very difficult to see that in the world. So loosen up and let go and allow different ways of seeing to come into view.
So in summary, if you want to have more authentic conversations,
- Be present.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Be vulnerable and share where you want to grow.
- Be curious about other people.
- Don’t identify with your opinions.
As you do more of this, you’ll find that you have much deeper conversations and you’ll get to topics which are uplifting and create change in the world. For me, a lot of social change comes through developing new stories that we can tell of how we can come together to create change.
And a lot of it comes from listening about what people are experiencing and what their real needs are. My hope is that as you go out and have more authentic conversations, that you’ll enjoy them more, and that will lead to even more conversations and more ways that we can come together to create change.