Cutting-Edge Leadership

The best in current leadership research and theory, from cultivating charisma to transforming your organization

Cut the Small Talk: Deep Conversations Lead to Happiness

How conversation affects life satisfaction

Although we may envy those people who have the gift of effortlessly engaging strangers in conversation about the weather, politics, or news of the day, research suggests that it is the deep conversations that are associated with satisfaction and happiness.

University of Arizona psychologist, Matthias Mehl, had college students wear voice-activated recording devices that recorded their daily conversations. They were classified into small talk (discussing the weather, a TV show, or a daily activity) or deep conversations about current affairs, or philosophy of life. Mehl then measured the participants’ happiness and life satisfaction.

The study found that students who engaged in more deep conversations were happier than those who spent a greater portion of their interactions making small talk. Mehl suggests that deep conversations help us find more meaning and importance in our lives, and that may lead to greater happiness.

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 Here is the study, which was published in Psychological Science.

 

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Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

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