How Great Conversations Create Deep Intimacy & Happiness

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Self

Conversations have never been more important for your emotional and spiritual well-being than now.

This past year, many have been isolated in lockdown, with restrictions circumscribing everyone's lives. Intimacy and happiness seem so far away for so many. 

It's normal to feel fatigued, anxious, and lonely when so much of our social interaction and freedom to travel and gather together has been taken from us.

It may feel like a year in rehab without having the operation you're healing from. But the prospect of a vaccine may bring life back to some semblance of normal.

Now is the time to think about communication — specifically, conversation — and what lessons you can draw upon to improve your life and those you care about, moving forward.

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Good conversations can make us feel seen and heard.

Whether face-to-face or communicating across thousands of miles, feeling seen and heard can mean everything when conversations are effective.

Conversation is intimacy. It differs from debate and dialogue. Many speak to others in debate mode when you argue that your point of view is right and theirs is wrong.

So, you listen to overwhelm the other. Or you have dialogue when you exchange ideas to either sell or persuade someone to accept your proposal, idea, or to reach an amicable solution to a problem.

Debate and dialogue are about external factors.

Conversation is about internal openness and intimacy to know the other in ways that build the relationship.

How do you conduct a conversation to build relationships?

Everyone knows how to talk, but do you know how to listen? Specifically, to listen to enhance your relationship, rather than to address a problem or manage a project.

Here are 6 ways to use the art of conversation for greater intimacy and happiness in your relationships.

1. Allow for the time and space for leisurely talk.

So much of your life seems to be dictated by a contrived urgency to get things done. Yes, there's a time to focus discussion on making decisions and solving problems with an agreement to action.

But for enjoyable, life-affirming conversation, set aside the time and energy for interaction for its own sake. Perhaps a walk with a friend, a Zoom call to just catch up, or a dinner conversation with the family to enjoy one another.

This is not "idle conversation," but active living and loving.

2. Ask questions with curiosity, not judgment.

Curious listening is intended to understand how the other person feels or thinks.

Rather than ask questions to steer the discussion to what you want or feel, focus the question on the other person to learn to understand them better.

Or just let them reflect and you be the empathetic listener.

3. Ask "What?" rather than "Why?"

It may be better to ask what the person was thinking or feeling, rather than asking them why they did something.

They may not know why they acted a certain way, but if you ask how they were feeling or what they were thinking at the moment, this may enable the other person to open to exploration, rather than try to explain their actions.

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4. Ask open-ended rather than closed-ended questions.

Closed-ended questions can be answered with a "yes" or "no" and can hinder the flow of conversation.

Open-ended questions that begin with "who," "what," "where," "when," and "how" may prompt the other person to talk.

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You can listen and respond.

5. Conversation can be more than words.

If you know something about someone, sending a video or photo related to what you know about them is a way to show you care. You understand it has meaning or relevance.

These days, many people are overwhelmed by photos, videos, jokes, and images being sent to them, since they're spending so much time online.

However, a meaningful message based on your knowledge of the other person is a special way to connect that can cut through the clutter.

6. Quality is more important than quantity.

The level of intimacy can bring so much more happiness than the length or frequency of communication. Consider the joy of a conversation with an old friend about events, people, or dates you each had when young.

Even talking about remembrances of their parents who are long gone can bring instant joy and depth to the conversation, since only you and they shared those moments.

Conversation makes you feel more human.

In this era of artificial intelligence, when our GPS directs where you go and devices can answer questions or order deliveries, conversations can re-affirm human connections in ever-more creative and meaningful ways.

You can engage in good conversation as a life-long activity. You can learn, know, and befriend others in mutual satisfaction, which can help you to create happiness — for yourself and others.

RELATED: 6 Communication Tips That Every 'People Person' Knows

Jeff Saperstein is a career transition coach. For more information on how he can help you land your dream job, visit his website.