It’s no doubt that introverts and extroverts differ on the subject of small talk. Extroverts don’t mind any chance to connect to their fellow humans via conversation, no matter what the topic. Introverts, on the other hand, truly despise small talk. That’s because most introverts only want to use their energy on more meaningful discussions. Introverts prefer to go deep. And, they may be onto something.
As Jenn Granneman writes in her article, “Why You Need to Start Having Deeper Conversations”:
Psychologist Matthias Mehl and his team set out to study happiness and deep talk. His study, published in the journal Psychological Science, involved college students who wore an electronically activated recorder with a microphone on their shirt collar that captured 30-second snippets of conversation every 12.5 minutes for four days. Effectively, this created a conversational “diary” of their day.
Then researchers went through the conversations and categorized them as either small talk (talk about the weather, a recent TV show, etc.) or more substantive conversation (talk about philosophy, current affairs, etc.). Researchers were careful not to automatically label certain topics a certain way—if the speakers analyzed a TV show’s characters and their motivations, this conversation was considered substantive.
The researchers found that about a third of the students’ conversations were considered substantive, while a fifth consisted of small talk. Some conversations didn’t fit neatly into either category, such as discussions that focused on practical matters like who would take out the trash.
The researchers also studied how happy the participants were, drawing data from life satisfaction reports the students completed as well as feedback from people in their lives.
The results? Mehl and his team found that the happiest person in the study had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third the amount of small talk, as the unhappiest person. Almost every other conversation the happiest person had—about 46 percent of the day’s conversations—were substantive.
Yes! The study showed that those who had deeper conversations reported feeling happier in life.
So, how do you go deeper? How do you make your connections more meaningful? Read the rest of Granneman’s really insightful article to learn more.