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How to Have Deeper and More Meaningful Conversations

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

Tips to ensure that your conversations can be sincere, validating and enlightening.

The prospect of a meaningful conversation is not only a subjective one, but also, at times, a fairly daunting one. Whether it’s friends, family, or your significant other, there are often many occasions where we may pine for one of those ‘let’s just sit and talk about life’ type situations, but all too often, these types of conversations can begin to feel overwhelming, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, lost and lacking in any real sense of purpose. In order to maintain a progressive, sincere conversations, there are certain things to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to establish the context of this conversation. Is the person you are speaking with someone you are familiar and comfortable with? And has the subject matter of this conversation been pre discussed or touched upon before? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you may want to start slow. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking to escape the dreaded small talk stages we can often find ourselves stuck in, but small talk isn’t innately bad. When used as a warm-up or segway, small talk provides the crucial foundations that pave the way to deeper, more meaningful conversations. Delving into the deep with someone new can be quite overwhelming, but slight differences in phrasing can allow for more meaningful insights without putting you at the risk of coming off too strong. For instance, swap the conventional “what do you study?”, for “what do you do?” or “what do you like to do?”, as this gives your partner more room to speak about themselves as a person and not just their occupation. It might also be worth, with newer friends, holding off on more heavy conversations until you’ve met up a few times. Then, once you are comfortable with eachother, you can start to bring up more personal ideas and thoughts, and allow your musings to flow.

If you’re then at the stage where you feel comfortable and want to have more meaningful conversations, whether this be opening up to family, exploring uncharted territory of a relatively new friendship, or seeking to deepen your bond with a long term partner or friend, then here are some tips that are crucial in ensuring that your conversation is meaningful and directional:

  1. Don’t jump the gun, or get too excited by your own next thought. 

It can be easy to get overly passionate, especially when you feel you have something particularly relevant to say, but try to refrain from cutting the other person off in the midst of sharing. Make it a point to listen before you speak. This not only allows your partner full scope of saying what they need to, but also allows you to further decide whether the next point you’re going to make is appropriate. Relating your own thoughts and ideas to someone else is often comforting and uplifitng, but its important to consider the balance between relating your own experinces to someone else’s in a progressive way, and digressing from their current train of thought by consistently linking any point to your own affairs.

  1. Ask genuine, well thought through follow up questions.

This one is crucial. Not only does this validate the person you’re having your conversation with, reminding them that you’re actively interested and attentive to what they are saying, but it also allows you to find out more. A consistent back and forth, epitomised through questions-asking, is what defines a meaningful conversation, in which both parties are continuously learning more about each other. This dynamic is what differentiates a sincere discussion from two people talking separately about their own perspectives . Plus, if you’re after one of those conversations in which time seems to melt away as you sit and get lost in exchange, then question asking is a sure fire way to take agency and extend your conversation for as long as you want.

3.Aim for genuine relatability, not a false bond.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves pretending to be interested in something someone else has mentioned, or agreeing with them so that they continue their point. Whilst it is always considerate and worthwhile to attempt to see another perspective, when it comes to definitive beliefs, hobbies or life experiences, it is always better to acknowledge the differences that become evident, instead of attempting to connect by dissimulating your own experiences to match. Contrast can be just as enriching as shared interests or viewpoints, and so if you genuinely don’t find something relatable, don’t attempt to decipher a way to mould your own views or encounters in a way that compliments your partners. Instead, acknowledge the differences, and look for other, more real, instances of congruity when they arise; I promise you’ll feel the buzz of connection much harder in this case than if you attempt to clutch at straws.

4.Link what you’re sharing back to what has already been shared with you

As nice as it is to let each other ramble, the key to really getting the most out of a conversation is to establish why you are constantly building upon things. Is it to help someone rationalise an experience they’re going through? In which case, after you’ve shared your own experience, put it back into the context of your partner’s. Not only does this help you to show that you haven’t lost focus or dominated the conversation, but it is also beneficial for you, too, as it allows for one of the aforementioned ‘genuine relatability moments’. Giving your conversation a central point allows you to bring back a sense of direction if anyone begins to digress, whilst also allowing you to explore numerous subtopics and expand your thoughts without getting overwhelmed.

5.Have an open mind

This goes without saying, but is unequivocally a pivotal aspect of a meaningful conversation. If you enter a ‘deep’ conversation with the aim of expressing your own opinion and defending it through and through, there is very little that can be achieved. When engaging with someone on a conversational level, the primary objective is almost always to learn, even if you still come away with the same belief systems. Let go of any defensiveness you may have, and try and view the conversation as though you are an outsider with no prior motives; taking an unbiased standpoint means you can reap the maximum benefits from other’s input.

It is, however important to remember that, whilst tips like these will certainly aid you in getting the most out of your conversations, there is absolutely no one set way to have a ‘meaningful’ conversation. In their very nature, deep conversations are highly personal and intimate, and it’s up to you how you wish to approach subject matter, any boundaries you wish to set, and whether you want to converse or listen more. The true key is openness, in mind, ear, and in admitting when you may not actually be able to relate. If you can enter a conversation with transparency, and couple this with a methodical approach to ground and rationalise all the thoughts you’re putting out there, you will be sure to get the most sentiment out of your conversation.

Happy learning x

Nicole Quy

Bristol '23

Wellness Editor at Her Campus Bristol & regular contributor. English BA student, here to share good food, good advice and good vibes x