How to Have Deeply Meaningful Conversations

Communication is hard. Wouldn’t the world be better if we could connect at a deeper level? But what makes for deep, meaningful conversations? That might sound like a stupid question, until you learn that someone has an answer. That person is psychologist Carl Rogers. Hang in there.

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How To Have Deeply Meaningful Conversations

So, how can you make your conversations more meaningful? Carl Rogers, rated as the 6th most eminent psychologist by the American Psychological Association, has an answer to that question. His humanistic approach to psychotherapy was revolutionary and highly influential, but here we’ll focus on his observations about communication. In his 1964 talk “Experiences in communication” he shared the 3 main characteristics of communication that made him “feel pleased and warm and good and satisfied.”

1. True Hearing

Something that can make you think “wow I really had a deep conversation there” is the feeling of being heard. What is it that generates that feeling? When you talk to someone and they listen actively, a.k.a. not just sitting there and nodding, but actually trying to make sure they understood you correctly. When you listen actively you try to hear the full meaning of what is being said, even the hidden feelings. And then you ask for confirmation (“Do I understand it correctly that you …”, “Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that you …”). Why? You might have gotten it wrong, which will allow your interlocutor to correct you. But it’s when they say “yes, exactly, that’s it!” that the magic happens. There is little that feels more healing than being truly heard.

2. Authentic Speech

What can make you feel that you really connect to someone? When they show their true self. When they speak authentically. How can you tell you are being authentic? You have a feeling of alignment, groundedness and presence. Your experience, thoughts and words are aligned. If you allow yourself to be authentic you will feel like “you were really there.” Your interlocutor will feel that you were not putting up a front. Both of you will leave the conversation feeling that you connected on a deeper level.

3. Felt Appreciation

What gives you a surge of energy and the courage to try new things out? Paradoxically, it’s the feeling that you are enough, that you have it in you, that you have the resources to grow and to learn and to flourish. How do you generate that feeling in someone? By prizing and appreciating them for who they are, in their entirety, and by expressing that appreciation.

This is how you do it

This is how you have deep and meaningful conversations: you listen actively, you express yourself authentically, and you share your positive regard for the other person.

What has characterized the most meaningful conversations in your life? Let me know in the comments!


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