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How to Have Deep, Inspiring Conversation with Your Friends


I read an article recently that middle-graders were dropping off in reading, and one reason was that in the past, many had gotten recommendations from peers. “At recess, your best friend tells you that you have got to read the Baby-Sitters Club, and boom, you’re hooked. That avenue for discovery evaporated during the pandemic, and it hasn’t come back.”

Setting aside the specific topic of book recommendations, for a moment, I think there is a more profound truth being revealed here — for kids, and also for adults.

Do we talk to each other about the things we love? The things that inspire us? We can get waylaid in conversations about schedules and work and kids activities, and forget to share the things that truly ignite our energy & imagination.

The loss — like the loss of preteens bonding over a favorite novel — can be great, and impactful. How do we maintain, or restore, a level of engagement with our friends about what is exciting, intriguing, & inspiring us?

Persist in real-time conversations

We may never return to an era of the long phone call (though FaceTime is a good (better?) substitute), but text doesn’t quite do it. One-to-many interactions (ie. social media) also hits different for true engagement. Persist in prioritizing one-to-one conversation, or small group meet-ups. I was so inspired when we were recently in Paris to see how much interaction happened on the daily between friends in cafes and in parks.

Share the deep cuts

What are you reading and what is intriguing you about it? Or, why is it terrible? I have an hour(ish) per month set aside for exactly this conversation centered around a particular book (in my book club); but, what about the rest of the time? What about the other books I’m reading? What about other articles that are thought-provoking or films I’ve seen. Finding spaces to talk (and think) deeply about the media we’re absorbing will enrich the experience from shallow consumption to deeper engagement.

Take the risk

It may break patterns to try to bring out more depth in conversation. But, it may be a discomfort like putting on a new pair of jeans: a little awkward & strained at first, but just needs a bit of time & working in. We've become averse to risk, especially in interpersonal relationships — factional topics make relationships feel fraught and precarious, when we need love & connection the most! — but, this kind of risk may be worth it!



Furthermore, if we are having conversations of substance, do we get to what is good, beautiful, & true? Or, do we get bogged down by the weight of the world, the burden of the news, the negativity of the world’s many (legitimate) worries & disappointments?

Don't Forget Fun

Another telling reason that the article pointed out for the lag in children’s book reading is that the joy of devouring a whole book, for fun & pleasure, has been somewhat sapped by focusing on outcomes (number of minutes read; reading excerpts & responding to questions about them for testing, rather than getting lost in full books, etc.). Unsurprisingly, “quiet, issue-oriented” books are not getting the traction of fun, humor, & adventure… But, that doesn’t mean that kids aren’t up for heartfelt stories.

Similarly, we can develop empathy, sacrifice, and deep care... even while having a good time! Stories — whether in books, films, tv, or just shooting the breeze with others — are powerful impactors and motivators to change, often moreso when the intent isn't to drive home a particular, motivational message.

In other words, don't forget to have fun! Depth does not necessitate seriousness, and fun doesn't have to be shallow. 

Create the Conditions

Maybe there are environments that are better, or worse, to pursue good conversation. If you want to set a different pattern among friends, or try a new way of engaging, how about creating the conditions that you want to see?

Maybe set up a standing coffee-shop time for drinks & conversation? Or, try a dinner party with the expectation that everyone will share one movie/book/show/etc. that they've been thinking about, or with conversation prompts on papers on the table. Make a plan to go for walks where no life-logistics talk is allowed. Give it a go!


What is inspiring you lately? What book, what show, what tale, has brought you life? Share in the comments below, or, even better... tell a friend. 😊

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