Most people want to enjoy positive discussions and conversations with others. It can be disheartening when you want to talk about something that matters, only to have your attempts derail and turn into filler talk.
At the end of the day, only a few like to occupy their time with nothing but empty talk. The problem, of course, is this: how can you guarantee deeper verbal connections with others? Here are 6 ways to keep your discussions meaningful and engaging.
1. Don’t assume that people don’t want to talk
Some of the quickest killers of a meaningful discussion are assumptions, and the “deadliest” of them all is that the people you’re talking to don’t really want to be there. It’s not uncommon for people to think that no one wants to talk or contribute to them, forcing them to keep quiet. This is a pluralistic form of ignorance.
In fact, research supports this idea! A series of interesting studies they were carried out on a group of people traveling to work on a train. These participants received instructions on what to do during that trip. The results showed that:
- Most of the participants thought that having conversations would have worsened their travel experience before experimenting.
- People who had conversations during the trip felt more positive at the end.
- The longer the conversation went on, the more positive thoughts they carried into the day.
- There were no changes in the typical productivity of the participants during their trip, whether they spoke or not.
- Most of the participants found that initiating conversations was the greatest challenge, mainly due to fear of rejection.
- No participant reported being rejected by random nonparticipants with whom they initiated a conversation
Many times, it’s not that people don’t want to talk. It’s just that people think that no one else does! While this won’t be true for everyone, most of the time, taking the first step in starting the conversation or discussion will show others that it’s safe for them to talk to you, too. You can’t have a meaningful discussion if you think no one wants to have it with you.
2. make things open
Anything you say that would normally result in the other person answering “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” is a surefire way to stop an argument in an awkward way. After all, the point of a discussion is to share thoughts and ideas, and how do you get that with a yes / no answer?
The key is to make sure you have an open discussion by avoiding these yes / no conversation traps. Anything you say should be able to be built. Here are some tips for keeping an open discussion:
Ask for stories
Ask someone to tell you about their experiences or their life. It gives them the opportunity to talk about themselves, which gives them a new vision of their world and of who they are. This also opens the door for more discussions in specific areas and allows you to reconsider issues more fully later.
Reframe questions stuck in open questions
Sometimes rephrasing normal yes / no questions or empty standard questions can lead to a surprising difference. For example, instead of asking “How was your weekend?” you can ask, “What did you do this weekend?” or “What was your favorite part of your weekend?” This opens the door to a more interesting result.
Sometimes the best way to make a discussion meaningful is for you to very directly show not only your humble side, but also that you really want someone’s opinion. Make it clear that you want to hear their perspectives, ideas, and how their experiences will best inform your situation.
3. Know how to start
Having a meaningful discussion becomes easier when you get off to a good start. Knowing how to start a conversation can flow more easily and elicit a more positive response from those around you. Here are some tips to do so:
Prepare meaningful and attractive topics
It’s harder than you think to come up with something really eye-opening on the fly, and it’s even harder to get more than a cursory idea of what you can come up with on the spot. Expanding your horizons and learning new things can allow you to find meaningful topics that you really enjoy. These topics can be added to a mental topic list to start “deep” conversations that you can use to make things interesting right away.
Don’t just quote headlines, make sparks
Some people think that talking about current news is not a good idea. It’s actually perfectly solid, but you need to create conversation sparks out of it. For each hot topic, create a few starting points that spark discussion and give others a good idea to continue the conversation.
Have a clear intention
When you start a discussion, you want to make sure you know what you’re doing it for, especially if you want it to be meaningful. Enter with a clear goal for what you want from the discussion. What problem do you want to solve? What do you want to learn? What answers are you looking for? Of course, this does not apply to all scenarios; It is also acceptable to get into a discussion and see where it goes, but technically it is also an intention. Keeping even that vague goal in mind will help drive the conversation toward productivity.
Have you ever heard someone say that I don’t like small talk Because they want deep, intellectual conversations? Maybe you even said it yourself. Whatever the case, it’s time to learn the truth: empty talk and small talk, although they commonly occur simultaneously, are not the same.
Empty talk is talk that has no direction or purpose other than to fill time with nonsense nonsense. But a little talk is helpful. In fact, studies show that most people positive Small talk impulses, that is, to your brainpower and other cognitive abilities. This means that small talk itself is not inherently negative, simply because it is a form of social interaction.
Of course, you want a discussion, not idle talk. But here’s the thing: it’s very unusual for someone to break the ice with a profound statement, especially with strangers. And let’s face it: not all conversations can be deep, and some people may be a bit tired and need more warm-up before diving into the complex stuff.
When you start a conversation with small talk, you can choose a meaningful small talk that can gradually turn into better discussions, such as:
- Ask how the person is feeling and show that you care about their answer by encouraging them to open up more.
- Ask how someone’s weekend was, what you can get them to tell you a story you can build on.
- Comment on something in the room or space in an open manner, opening the door for discussion that arises from that topic.
You can avoid empty talk by not stating the obvious and showing that you care about the other person’s answer. In other words, don’t try to talk about the weather, and don’t ignore someone’s answer when you ask something that seems arbitrary.
5. Think well of your fellow debaters
Looking at others is not just unfair and cruel. It is also a surefire way to end an argument. Give the people you are chatting with the benefit of the doubt, treat them with respect, and think of them reasonably well. People respond best to those who approach them in a positive and unconsciously captures your respect. Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting that message across:
Suppose others want a meaningful discussion
If you think someone is not intellectual enough to make an interesting conversation, you run the risk of “cluttering” the discussion and reducing any chance of depth. In other words, underestimating others can cause you to stop meaningful discussions.
Show interest in their interests
Some of the best ways to have meaningful discussions is to take an interest in what the other people involved like. Ask them questions about what they like and learn to begin to take genuine interest in their responses. Sure, you might not be interested in fishing, sports, or parenting, for example, but that doesn’t mean you can’t care about someone’s personal experiences with them. Try to connect with other people and hone your empathy, and who knows? You might even learn some new and interesting things!
Don’t force a consensus
Respect the right of other people to have their own opinions and respect them enough to be honest if you disagree. Don’t try to force others to give in to your personal ideas or perspectives. Discussions can be more engaging and meaningful when there are disagreements, as all parties can hear and appreciate other perspectives.
6. Use open body language
No amount of verbal discussion can override messages taken from body language. You want to make sure your body language matches your desire for an interesting conversation. Here are some tips for keeping your tone welcoming and open with non-verbal cues:
Uncross the limbs
Crossing your legs or arms is a defensive posture that closes you off and sends the subconscious signal that you are not open to new information or conversation in general. Use your hands while speaking and keep your legs in a neutral position for a more friendly and open vibe.
Use an open posture
If you want people to have more positive thinking When talking to you, your posture should be open. That means standing or sitting with your back straight and in a comfortable but confident posture, with your body at an angle to the person or group with whom you are speaking. This shows that you are eager to chat.
Maintain reasonable eye contact
Not using any eye contact can tell someone that you are bored or disinterested. Wearing too much can make someone uncomfortable. Admittedly, it may take some practice before you can naturally maintain a reasonable amount of eye contact without thinking too much about it. If this is something you struggle with, then you will need to be more mindful of your eyes at first – hold eye contact for a few seconds, then look away and then look back again.
It’s always a great experience when a discussion manages to be engaging, meaningful, and productive at the same time. You can make this happen in more conversations by keeping these 6 methods in mind!