I just got a question from a reader wondering why most of her conversations nowadays are just on a surface level.
I love this question because I have had this exact same problem myself.
It was when I moved to a new city, Gothenburg, some years ago (before I moved to NYC). I only knew one or two people there. They were into sports and having fun. I’m into deep conversations and philosophy.
I’ve never realized how much I craved these deep conversations. I felt starved. How on earth do I find people I can have meaningful conversations with?
More or less out of desperation, I started a philosophy group. I asked anyone who might be interested and asked them to bring their friends, too.
Every week, we covered some new, deep topic.
I felt like I could finally breathe again!
Once again I had deep and meaningful conversations every week with a bunch of incredible people. Many of those are now my close friends.
“But where did all the thoughtful people in my life go?”
Many feel like the last deep conversations they had were those late night talks back with friends from school.
Have people become more shallow since then, destroyed by Snapchat, super likes, and fidget spinners?
No! It’s a trap to assume that people have changed just because our own life’s changed.
People’s “surface-manners” change over the years and across cultures. However, deeper human behavior, like wanting to be understood or sharing deep feelings, doesn’t change over 10 years (not even over 10 000 years).
There will always be thoughtful people (and there will always be shallow people, too).
How you can have more deep conversations in your life:
1. Finding the right people
You want to find people with a personality and interests similar to yours. Some are just not interested in deep conversations. (But more people than you think are. You just need to get to know them first)
Remember: The more specific interests, the better – because that’s where you find people who you have a lot of things in common with. Those general “meet new friends” groups are not always the best to find likeminded.
2. Spending enough time together
Why did many people have their deepest relationships in school?. Simply because they spent so many hours together with their peers. Studies confirm that to become close friends with someone, we need to spend many hours together.
This is why you want to find a group that meets up on a regular basis. My philosophy-group was every Wednesday for almost a year. That gave us enough time to truly get to know each other.
3. Asking the right questions
Most often, you need to get to know someone well before it’s natural to talk about deeper things. We get to know people by asking specific questions. I don’t know how many times I hear people complain that others are shallow – when in reality they need to be better at getting to know others.
Let me know what you think in the comments!