It was only a few years ago that I embraced the truth that I am an introvert. And I’m happy with that.
I do enjoy the company of people, especially those I can connect with on a deep level. Sadly, I’m finding it more and more difficult to do that.
I come away from most social gatherings, even small ones, wondering if I had wasted my time going. Conversations seem to be kept at a surface, we all seem to talk at each other and most of all there are always mobile phones to add noise and photographs to the gathering! I find myself drained after such social events. I’m grateful that I have José to come home to and really have a good conversation with.
What makes great conversations?
When is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation that wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture?
But … a great conversation, in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew? That you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost … a conversation that brought the two of you on to a different plane? … a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards …
I’ve had some of them recently … they are food and drink for the soul.
– John O’Donohue –
Doesn’t that sound so good? I’ve been musing how we can have more meaningful conversations and here are just a few things I can think of
- A sense of awareness to realize who you are speaking to and what you are saying.
- It’s important to make your words count, but it’s also important to count your words. Succinct speech can be more effective than long winded talk.
- Being genuine and talking because you want to and not because it seems something you have to do.
- Trying to find common interests with the person you are talking to, so that both can participate actively.
- Asking leading questions that gets the other to talk about themselves or the subject.
- Listening with the intention to understand the other – even going beyond what they say, to understand what they feel. Empathy is highly under-rated.
- Checking with the other to see if you’ve understood her correctly.
- No attempts to impress or flatter.
When was the last time you had a great conversation? Would you like to add something to my list?
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True conversation is ‘an art’…quite difficult to learn. I am still in the process of learning it and meeting such people who can take a meaningful conversation forward in the right direction.
Thanks for sharing wonderful tips.
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You know Corinne, I’m an introvert as well…I find it hard to talk , I mean starting a conversation…I’m more comfortable listening ..I’m usually the person who stays quiet in social gatherings and in places where I absolutely have to talk, I come back exhausted
I do not remember the last time I had a great conversation going by the parameters you have defined. Most conversations these days are catch-ups. I meet my friends so rarely that the time goes by in simply catching up with all that has been happening. So I suppose those would be intersected monologues…. But according to me, a great conversation is one that leaves you feeling happy… 🙂
I am an introvert as well. I would think so and why I think that? Well, I am very comfortable in most of the settings but the real me wants to keep things within and conversations – I love having them with close ones. I also can’t ever say what I would want. My choice takes a back seat with most of the people.
The good thing is my great conversations are almost everyday 🙂 Your post made me reflect Corinne.
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I did a listening skills course a couple of years ago it was fascinating. I feel I have had better conversations since then. But on thing i also learnt is how important that social chit chat is also. We can’t be best friends with everyone and not everyone is open to deep conversations. But when it comes to partners, our children and also closest friends meaningful conversation and listening is really important and can enrich lives and even save relationships. Great post
I wonder how you could be an introvert. I love to talk and get connected with people all times. Great post and useful tips to have good conservation.
It’s been a really long time since I have deep meaningful conversation… long time since I have heard profound words in real life. There are times when I really really miss having girlfriends here,because some of the great conversations happen right after midnight 🙂
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The conversations you refer to I usually can have only with my nearest and dearest, and she died last month. I look around and can’t see anyone I feel comfortable with sharing my closest thoughts. But as an introvert as well (although I look extroverted) I prefer 1/1 to groups.
I feel in most social gatherings, conversations float only on a surface level. I believe I am very easy person to talk to, but my real conversations, like John O’Donohue describes, happen mostly with my husband and sister.
Completely agree on all the points you have mentioned, most important of those being listening with the intention of understanding.
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That Donahue quote really got me thinking… and surprisingly, a few moments came to mind recently. And yes, i am grateful for them. They help you realize more about yourself – how you’ve come to accept truths and events.
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Yes, empathy is highly underrated! As an introvert, I seek quality conversation as well; it’s a misconception that introverts don’t need connection. We do, but we generally seek it in more depth in one-on-one situations.
My best conversation recently was with my son and it was awesome! He came for a visit and, while my husband was out, the two of us just sat and conversed. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “How lucky am I? I raised this man, and now I’m blessed with this unbelievable relationship!”
I think an important key, along with empathy, is remaining open in a space of non-judgement. When the two people both feel safe enough to say what ever is on their mind, without fear of being judged or misunderstood, the results can be priceless.
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I too am still in the process of learning how to make true conversation. Whenever you come across someone that you are really connecting with–it’s a really good feeling. It really is like food and drink for the soul. Thank you for sharing!
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Hubs and I try to have one once a day. He’s a great conversationalist.
Corinne, I was nodding all along reading this one. I am soo sick and tired of superficial conversations! But I live in a society where speaking your mind would only invite the wrath of people around, most of them being so shallow or narrow-minded. Honestly blogging is one world, where one is liberated enough to read and speak one’s mind in all honesty!
I have known myself to be an introvert all my life. For a long time I never had anything to talk about with people. That was the time I was not comfortable in my skin. I deemed myself as an alien since there was nobody around me who was like me or could connect with me. Now, I know introverts are not alien and there are more like me. I am always looking for people with whom I can easily connect with and for that I am working upon inculcating the art of asking and letting the other person speak about themselves. The other thing that works for me is my sixrh sense 😀
The last time I had a heartfelt conversation was when I met Esha in January. None of us wanted to take leave.
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Hey superficial conversations are a put off for sure, making one wonder what really is the need to have such people and such chats around you.
Glad to have stumbled upon your blog!
A well-written post 🙂
For my friends I am an extrovert, I can talk endlessly. But to a new person, I am The Introvert. I don’t know how to make small talks and start a conversation with a random person. Recently I met with my husband’s colleagues and wives. It was so bad. I couldn’t connect with any of the ladies. The conversations were not anything which could spark any interest in me. I wanted to write about the bitter experience but since they are real life people I refrained. But I felt so bad; they continued talking in Hindi even though they knew I don’t talk Hindi. And even the conversations which went on the lines of why it is important for everyone to have boy babies, was a big turn off for me. I concluded that I am better off without that group. I have 2 or 3 friends with whom I have sensible conversations. Husband and I also have such in-depth conversations on a daily basis.
Darla M Sands
Nice post. It’s very thought provoking. Socializing is difficult for me, and yet I find myself guilty of not listening to others so much as waiting for my chance to speak. I need to work on that. Be well!
Love the description by John O’Donohue. Like you Corinne I also find most groups draining and the conversations superficial. I am blessed that I have a few close friends with whom conversations are food and drink for the soul. Awesome post.
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Corinne, this one is just resonating with me! I can go on and on about how we hardly have those heartfelt, genuine conversations even with good friends because everyone seems to be rushing around. At my age, I would rather have two or three good friends with whom I could have one of those honest, deep and genuine conversations that leaves me happy. Love the Donahue quote…it makes so much sense. Recently, Anamika and I met up…we had a wonderful, heart-to-heart conversation that day. Actually, even her son Dhruv had a heart-to-heart chat with me, believe it or not!!! We just connected like that. It was one of those moments when I felt I was meeting up with an old friend I had known for a long time. Sadly, time flew by and we had to take leave but with a promise to meet up again soon with our kids!
I always thought I was an extrovert because I’m so talkative, until the last year or two when I’ve been considering I’m more of an introvert and definitely need “recharging” time after going out. So funny that we can see ourselves so differently from reality at times.