substantive conversations (vs how ‘bout this weather conversations) are happier? It’s not surprising, since really connecting with people requires more than an exchange about atmospheric conditions.
I have a few suggestions about how to have real and substantive conversations. At work, use the honest question approach recommended by John Baldoni. The principles are be curious, dig deeper, be open-ended, care about what they’re saying, be interested in what they’re saying, and take your time. If you can’t be interested and caring, why are you trying to have a conversation with this person anyway?
At home, the same. In social situations, the same. With your kids, the same.
In other words, when you talk with people, be focused. Try to learn something about them you don’t already know. Show them you care and are interested in what they have to say by making eye-contact, leaning forward, nodding and asking follow-up questions. Use open-ended, not yes-no, questions. Do not be thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner or what you’re going to say to get them to change their mind. Do not be checking your phone. Just practice listening, paying attention and asking good questions.
Maybe you’ll find yourself walking away feeling a bit happier. It’s cool to really connect with people. And as Chris Peterson, positive psychologist par excellence, says, people matter.
A good listen: Connection. The Rolling Stones.