Inviting Depth in Conversation

Meeting a need for connection and being seen and heard in conversation is often most satisfying when there is a sense of depth.  Depth in conversation typically refers to accessing layers of vulnerability and subtlety as an experience is shared and received.  Such conversations often touch on universal and core aspects of human experience from the felt sense of them rather talking aboutthem.  This shared felt sense of the universal provides depth and meaning.

Inviting this level of sharing in conversation relies on at least three major elements:  attentive silence, the desire to connect and be known, and focus on present experience. 

Attentive Silence

When someone is self-connected and wants to be known, depth in conversation is supported by frequent attentive silence.  An attentive silence is neither pushing for more nor uncomfortable with the quiet. There is a resting in openness and acceptance of the silence that allows the next layer to unfold.  Often this means letting go of random bits of free association that arise as you attend to another. You realize that sharing the "me too" or the "that reminds me of" story doesn't particularly help you access depth.  You recognize that depth requires time for self-connection in the other and your silent attentiveness supports this.

The Desire to Connect and be Known

When the desire to connect and be known is present, self-connection and gentle curiosity are flowing back and forth between you and the other person.  In this back and forth, you are conscious of where the aliveness is and you let this be your guide to expressing curiosity of the other's experience or sharing your own experience of the moment.  In this attunement to aliveness, neither of you push conversation in a particular direction nor rush to share it "all" at once. In your sharing you remain experientially self connected and make space for the effect of your sharing on the other person by sharing a little at a time and then hearing from them.  In their sharing, you get curious about how the experience lives for them. This means questions about their experience of something rather focus on the information or content of what they are saying. 

Focus on Present Experience

Focus on the present moment experience doesn't mean you don't bring up events of the past or musings about the future.  You are always and only ever can have experience in the present moment. It is only a trick of thinking and language that has you imagine you are living in the past or future.  Whatever the topic of conversation, you can direct your attention to body sensations, impulses, desires, feelings, needs, energy, excetera, in the present moment. This primary focus on experience in the present invites unconscious layers of experience to become conscious moving gradually to the most core aspect of a constellation of related experiences.  It is the sharing, and often the universality, of this core aspect of experience that gives a sense of depth in conversation.

Practice

The next time you are engaged in personal sharing with someone ask yourself what more of experience you could share or invite.