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A Manufactured Conversation to Reveal Your Most Unmanufactured Thoughts

We declare our closest friends as our closest because of the connection we have with them. No matter how much we claim to know them, however, there will always be more to learn. Initiating a “deep” conversation has allowed me to understand my friends’ perspectives, opinions, and beliefs in a way I would have never otherwise appreciated. There are loads of question prompts online that come up after a google search along the lines of, “deep conversation questions.” For example: 

What do you like the most in people?

What do you like the least in people? 

Do you remember any character-defining moments from your childhood? 

What is one rule that you have for yourself that you never break? 

What do you do over and over again that you hate doing?

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By definition, a manufactured conversation is going to feel structured and slightly unnatural- at least at first. It is essential that you both go in open-minded and nonjudgmental, so that the conversation easily transitions into one that flows. If you maintain the mindset that, “this is silly, why do we need prompts to have a deep conversation?” the conversation will be silly and ineffective. If you instead view it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your friend, that is what it will become.

Not only should you both go in open-minded, but also with the intention of being vulnerable. It is never easy to be completely honest, so it is important to feel that the space is safe and judgment-free. There is always an easy out to these prompts. In response to the question, “what is your favorite thing about your personality?” you could give one of two responses that are represented by these answers:

  1. “Ummm probably that I’m nice”
  2. “My ability to be nice especially in situations where I am not being treated with respect. I always maintain the mindset that people acting rudely are not doing so because they are inherently bad people. They are acting as a result of their experience and being hurtful back would only further that cycle.”

Answering these questions myself and hearing the answers given by my friends have provided me with an understanding of how and why they think the way they do. I no longer interpret their behaviors as characteristic of their personality because it aligns with the patterns I have observed over time. I now appreciate their actions as a result of their thinking and values. I don’t view my friend buying a candle as another example of her liking to shop, but as the manifestation of the mindset she grew up with that treating yourself with small purchases is worth the accompanying emotional happiness.  

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To conclude the conversation, I highly recommend drawing inspiration from the game “We’re Not Really Strangers” and writing a letter to one another to open after you both leave. It can be a reflection of the conversation or about your appreciation for the other person. The letter is both an ego booster and a heart melter as you learn about your friend’s view of you and your friendship.

[bf_image id="thhxrprkphw47cbht4bfhws"] Having a manufactured conversation may not initially seem like the idea of a good time, but if you have the right mindset you will learn things about yourself and your closest friends that would have never been revealed without the help of that google search. 

Jillian Hughes

U Mass Amherst '23

Jillian is a senior at Umass Amherst majoring in biology and public health. She currently serves as the UMass chapter's treasurer. Her favorite things are traveling, chocolate chip cookies, and listening to podcasts on long walks.
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