Introducing yourself to someone, networking with people, making a friend, arguing with someone – all these human interactions begin with one simple thing: conversation. Without a conversation, two people would never get to know about each other, or learn if the other is compatible or not.
Conversations are important. They let you express your feelings. They help you understand what the other person is trying to say. They let you know if the other person is a kind, generous and helpful human being, or just a nasty and mean person. But sometimes it is difficult to have a meaningful conversation. We are unsure how to proceed and what to say. It can seem like a daunting task. So here are three hacks to deepen the conversation with another person to get to know them better.
Share a mutual interest
One of the best ways to start and deepen a conversation is to find a mutual interest. It could be anything, starting from the most common topics like movies, actors, a new restaurant, or something more serious like politics or global affairs. Whichever it is, having something common helps people to bond over this shared interest, and allows deeper conversation, than to just continue with small talk. For example, I became best friends with a guy in university while talking about Pokemon. So discovering the topics to bond over and have a conversation with can come from anywhere.
When you talk about a topic that both participants in a conversation has interest in, it becomes easier to feel companionship towards the other person. It helps you feel relaxed and allows you to be happy. This in turn affects what you think about the other person’s character. If the other person has a similar interest on a topic like you, it tends to make that person more likable.
This seems like an odd way to have a conversation, but hear me out first. Ranting occurs when you feel stressed out about something. When you are feeling unhappy and need someone to listen to you, having a rant can often lead to having a deep conversation. When you are upset and you keep talking about your negative feelings, you can judge you is actually lending you an ear, and who is just pretending. This helps in differentiating between different people’s characters. Also, ranting helps you let out steam and feel lighter.
One of my present best friends emerged when we used to rant together about university and studies. When you rant about something, judging by the other person’s reactions, you can tell if they are also into it in the same as you are. When you are annoyed about something and you discover that another person also feels the same way about the same thing, then having that conversation helps you feel less alone and provide a sense of belonging.
For example, any time I got frustrated with problems in classes, I would rant with this other girl who was in the same year as me. Over time, we developed a really good friendship since we both were usually in the same page, and thus could have an expressive conversation whenever we sat down for a chat. Who would have thought that all those evening rants would help so much?
Be a genuine responder
Sometimes, the reason we do not get into a deep conversation is because we forget to respond, or don’t respond genuinely. A response can be anything, giving our shoulder for the other person to cry on, listening instead of talking, trying to comprehend the other person’s point of view. Ask question, inquire about the other person’s wishes, maybe tell a personal story that you are comfortable with sharing in such a conversation. Sometimes it is better to listen to other person instead of talking. Everyone should have turns to express themselves in a conversation.
Having a good response allows the other person to feel comfortable and open up more, and thus deepening the conversation. I have a friend with whom I don’t always have time to talk with every day. But from time to time, we decide to sit down together and have long chats over dinner or coffee. Response becomes the key here. Sometimes I talk and she listens, and then offers her sympathy or some advice. Then she starts speaking and I listen, to understand and to care. It is a mutual relation, and without having genuine responses, our conversations would not have been so deep.
Sometimes, despite following these life hacks, you may still end up with not much to say, but that’s OK. The key point is to keep trying. When you meet a like-minded person, you will notice the ease with which the conversation will flow.
Also, remember that disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean you have to be disagreeable. It is perfectly rational to not agree with all the points when having a conversation with someone, but mutual respect should still remain so as to not ending the conversation on a bad note.