The Art of Conversation

Psychologist Lara Sigurdson talks about opportunities for connection

The power of connecting with yourself and connecting with other people can’t be underestimated. Wengage chatted with psychologist Lara Sigurdson of Psychology Matters to get her insights.

Her mantra I have always liked a quote by Nietzsche: “Become who you are.” I love that because it presupposes there is someone wonderful you can be. You don’t have to be anyone else.

Check in with yourself I think women in general have a hard time with this because in the first half of life, we essentially figure out what the world needs from us. We figure out social relationships, what skills we have to contribute to the planet. But in the second half of life (which is where I am; I’m almost 50), you start thinking about well, what do I need? What does my soul need? I think there are a lot of women who forget about that as we focus on our roles to everyone else, as a mom, as a partner, at work.

Seek connection The idea of connecting and being with other people and observing things is really important too. That’s what we’re designed for; we’re socialized for it. You’re going to be able to take away learning and bear witness to other lives.

Conversation matters We tend to have the shields up, the shields that allow you to function in your roles. It’s the idea that “I have a certain person I have to be as a psychologist, as a partner, as a mother.” When you strip yourself of those shields and really have a conversation, you reveal who you are. This is where you learn most about yourself. There are only certain people you can do that with, and honestly sometimes it’s easiest with strangers. In that situation, you come to each other with zero preconceived notions of who you are.

Be curious For good conversation, I think there always has to be an element of curiosity about the other person. Otherwise you’re thinking too much about “What am I presenting? What am I going to say next?” But if you’re actually curious about the other person’s experience and what they have to teach you—if you’re open to that, pretty great things can happen. Learning, sharing, respect—those are the elements of great conversation.

Lara Sigurdson, Barrie, Ontario, Owner, Psychology Matters therapy practice