Imago Style: Deepening A Conversation

Deepening a conversation — Imago Style

Sometimes having a “deep” or “vulnerable” conversation with  a friend, family member or lover can feel so elusive.  It’s easy not to know what to say and to keep  the conversation on a surface — but engaging level.  In fact, one can spend endless hours discussing  the weather, politics, jobs, children, religion and never once reveal how you  are processing the “information” or your feelings that might personalize a  conversation.  Meaning, it’s easy in a  conversation to keep the conversation on an intellectual or impersonal level  without revealing the “you” behind your “opinions.”

If this is you, then keep reading. This tip written from an Imago Therapist’s  perspective will give you  lots of ideas about how to turn any regular conversation into something far  more “personable” and “deep.” Hopefully, the person on the receiving end will  welcome getting to know you, and honor your willingness to take the risk and  share yourself with them.

Remember as you try  out these new Imago therapist styled behaviors, not all of them will go well. Sometimes the person on  the receiving end will not be receptive. Maybe they too are awkward with  intimacy. Maybe they are in a bad mood and shut down. Maybe they are distracted  by good/bad news and therefore are emotionally unavailable to you. Maybe the  person was simply caught off guard and really liked it, but was unsure about  how to react and needs more time to adapt to the “new” you.  Before deciding if the below technique(s) are  useful to you, make a commitment to yourself to try speaking this way for one  week straight.  Then make a decision based  on the accumulative data.  Sometimes you  have to practice a new skill a few times before it really feels genuine.

The new style of Imago talking requires you to offer up your inner  thoughts about whatever the two of you are dialoguing about. Occasionally you  will ask a question, but for the most part you are pushing yourself to take the  first risk and to say what you actually believe.

Breaking the ice and getting closer to an acquaintance

  • My feelings about X topic are. . .
  • The story I make up in my head about X is…..
  • What touched me about what you just said ….
  • This conversation is pushing me to think about X
  • What I am learning from you is X
  • Let me see if I have what you are saying. I  heard you say X……..and I imagine you might be feeling X which makes sense  to me because Y
  • This is very interesting to me because ………..
  • This is very helpful to me because ………..
  • I really am enjoying talking to you….. are you  free to get a cup of coffee (or dinner etc) next week.

 

Deepening an established friendship

  • all of the above sentence stems and …….
  • I see you doing X and that makes me feel …….
  • The way our last discussion (fight / argument /  intellectual debate/gossip session) impacted me was….. I knew this because I  reacted by …………..
  • I am really struggling with X in my life. Are  you available to listen
  • I am really proud of myself because X  What makes this particularly noteworthy for  me is X
  • Are you available for me to talk about something  very personal?
  • I’m really struggling with X do you have time to  talk to me about it?
  • You are such a positive influence on me. Being  around you seems to push me to do X. The reason that I think that you are able  to have such an impact on me is because …….

 

Working together to get through an argument

  • Let me see if I understand your  perspective…… what I heard you say was …….. I imagine you might be  feeling X.  Feeling X makes sense to me  because I do Y, and if I thought Z then of course I would experience ……….behavior as …………..
  • If I could learn do X that might help you feel X  does any of this fit?
  • The way our last discussion impacted me was…..  I knew this because I reacted by …………..
  • As you talk, I am finding myself reacting by X,  I think I do this because (think of something that stems from early  childhood)………what would likely be more useful is…………..
  • So what I am going to have to learn to live with  is…. And to do so, I must ….. which is on top of feeling ……………..

 

Deepening the conversation doesn’t have to occur just  through words. There are many other ways.  Instead of using “stem” sentences you could use  humor, imagination and/or physical touch.   However, because this tip is written by a therapist — our approach is  through words! Revealing yourself through words can be powerful!