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!