Deep conversations are more likely when you find—or create—the right conditions for them.

5 Ways to Cultivate the Deep Conversations We Introverts Crave

Yes, even in this age of constant distractions and interruptions, it’s possible to have deep conversations with people—the kind of engaging interactions we introverts love.

One of the paradoxes of being an introvert is that, on the one hand, you tend to crave genuine connections with people—especially via engaging, deep conversations—while on the other you quickly become drained, even discouraged, by typical, more garden-variety 
social interactions.

You want to talk.

You don’t want to talk.

Which is it?

The answer, of course, is both.

More accurately: It depends on the person, the situation, the setting, and the topic(s) of conversation.

How can you have more of the types of social interactions that feed your introverted spirit and replenish your energy reserves—and fewer of the kind that do the opposite?

Here are a few tricks of the deep conversations trade that work well for me, and others.

One on One Is Your Wheelhouse

Having deep conversations in a group setting is next to impossible. There are simply too many competing voices that get in the way, and usually there’s too much background noise as well—too much external stimulation.

So, to the degree that you can, arrange to talk to people one on one in quiet settings.

Meet at the local library.

Find the coffee shop booth that is tucked away in a back corner.

If you’re at a networking event or conference, steal away outside for a few minutes and sit on a bench together.

The Phone Hinders Deep Conversations

At least one study has shown that even the mere presence of a cell phone (or two) when you’re with someone can have an adverse effect on your interactions.

You’ve undoubtedly experienced this phenomenon yourself: You’re talking to someone and, even though they aren’t actively checking their phone, you can sense that you are somehow competing against it for your companion’s attention.

Your conversation partner might well be thinking the same thing about you if your phone is visible during a conversation!

So … put it away.

And encourage your conversation partner to do the same—starting with your own modeling of the behavior.

Work Hard Not to Interrupt

Most of us, myself included, think we do a great job of not interrupting others when they are talking.

Most of us, myself included, are wrong.

We don’t try to interrupt. But we just can’t seem to help ourselves.

We tend not to listen quietly until the other person has completed his/her thought; instead, we have a hair-trigger for jumping in before that.

And as Kate Murphy notes in her fascinating book You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters, we introverts are not immune to this habit:

“Introverts, because they are quieter, are often thought to be better listeners. But this, too, is false. Listening can be particularly challenging for introverts because they have so much busyness going on in their heads that it’s hard to make room for additional input.”

So if you really want to make deep connections with people through deep conversations, pay attention first to your listening, not your speaking.

If you listen well, your partner is more likely to do the same.

Make Peace with Interruptions Anyway

No matter how well you listen or how well you are listened to, interruptions of some sort are inevitable in virtually every conversation. Nobody’s perfect, and few situations are ideal for undisturbed interaction.

I was talking with my brother Mike at a family gathering not long ago, and while he is generally an excellent listener he kept getting distracted—by other people in attendance, and by his tiny Maltese, Pluto, foolishly challenging the dog next door to a fight.

I am prone in such situations to give up on the conversation.

But this time I hung in there—and had a nice, if brief, chat with my brother.

Give “the Gift of Going First”

In her Introvert, Dear website article entitled “How to Connect Meaningfully When You’re an Introvert Who Hates Small Talk,” writer Grace Furman suggests that the next time you want, or you’re in, a deep conversation, give your partner “the gift of going first.”

“Share something a little vulnerable,” Furman says—it can be as simple as “I don’t really know anyone at this party” or “I’ve never enjoyed camping.”

You’ll be paid back and then some, Furman stresses:

“In my experience, people usually respond in kind, and this creates a fulfilling bonding experience.”

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