I’m often guilty of having superficial conversations. I’ll talk with people about weather, or sports, what they did that day, or what they plan to do that weekend. Not only can superficial conversations lead to superficial relationships, but recent research shows that having deeper conversations can make you happier.
One study had participants wear a recording device for 4 days. The researchers coded 30 second snippets of speech taken every 12.5 minutes as either trivial (talking about weather, tv shows, etc). or deep conversation (talking about current events, goals, etc.). After analyzing the data, the researchers found that the happiest participants had twice as many deep conversations as their less happy peers. 45.9% of conversations had by happy participants were deep, whereas only 21.8% of conversations had by unhappy participants were deep.
Why does this happen?
The lead researcher believes that deep conversations (1) strengthen social bonds and (2) create meaning. “By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world, and interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.” Watch the following video. You’ll see the effect that deep conversations can have in just a couple of minutes.
What can you do?
If you walk up to a stranger and ask them to describe the first time they fell in love (like they did in the video) the result will probably be pretty awkward. Instead, just try to ask more open-ended questions (about non-trivial things) in line with the conversation.
Let us know how it goes!