At the next happy hour with a date or brunch with a friend, what will you talk about?
The weather? Your cat? Damn Daniel?
Small talk like this is fine, but it rarely leads to real connection with people, says author and activist Glennon Melton Doyle.
On “The One You Feed,” a podcast about how to find happiness, host Eric Zimmer read a passage from Doyle’s memoir, “Love Warrior,” which explores how she formed more authentic relationships with friends, lovers, and strangers.
Doyle talks about why surface-level conversations often make people feel lonely:
“The problem with surface conversations is that you stay lonely all the time, because everybody’s surface is different,” she writes. “But if you take the chance, a leap of faith, and you go deeper, you’ll find at those deeper levels, we’re all the same.”
Meaningful connection happens when people speak honestly and let down whatever facades they hold up, Doyle says. Something magical happens when people tell their story honestly and allow themselves to be vulnerable.
MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle has made a similar argument based on her own research. In her latest book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” she says the best conversations usually have two components: they happen face-to-face — without phones — and both people allow the conversation to unfold spontaneously.
“It is in this type of conversation — where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish,” Turkle wrote in The New York Times. “In these conversations, we learn who we are.”
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