We’ve covered it before, but social connections are crucial when it comes to overall health. Don’t take our word for it; take it from positive psychiatrist Samantha Boardman, M.D., author of Everyday Vitality: “The most reliable contributor to our wellbeing is our social connections,” she shares on the mindbodygreen podcast. In fact, research shows that strong social relationships can even impact your immune response.
However, Boardman notes that the impact of those connections depends on their quality: “The research shows that not all social interactions are created equal,” she explains. Specifically, she states valuable interactions depend on meaningful conversations—while not every exchange needs to be imbued with deep meaning, it’s important that we regularly engage in such experiences in order to nourish our sense of connection.
So, how exactly can we encourage our conversations to go beyond the surface? Well, Boarman has a quick tip: Below, she offers three simple words that can help you dig a little deeper.
The three words that can unlock meaningful conversations.
According to Boardman, a seemingly simple phrase can make all the difference in our communications: “Tell me more.”
You see, when you chat with others, it can be easy to breeze through a variety of subjects without delving further into any particular topic. And sometimes, that’s completely fine (i.e., discussing your schedule need not become a philosophical endeavor). But when we have the opportunity to cultivate a deeper exchange, this technique can be highly beneficial.
“Having frequent positive interactions with other people who also care about you is essential,” adds Boardman. “And so how do you create environments to have meaningful conversations? It’s really by paying attention…Usually good conversations involve more listening than talking.” So when you say to someone, tell me more, it signals to them that you value their words, that you’re truly listening to what they have to say—and those components are key to forming connections, even if the conversation itself isn’t deep or profound.
You don’t even have to have an hour-long conversation: Boardman explains that even five minutes is enough to be present with your loved ones. “Carve out five minutes of your day just to be present and have a conversation beyond the logistics of, Did we need to get the dishwasher fixed? and [allow] those types of conversations [to go] a little bit deeper,” she says. She even suggests having these conversations with people you might not know well: “Those casual interactions can be more meaningful if we pay a little bit more attention and are deliberate about it.”
Incorporating the words, “tell me more” into your conversations may offer a simple way to cultivate deeper connection. It may sound obvious, but we could all use the friendly reminder, right? And in case you’re looking for new conversation starters, here’s over 60 thought-provoking questions for your viewing pleasure.