9 signs you’re an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations

Have you ever been in a fascinating conversation with someone and lost track of time?

You look at your watch and it’s two hours later than you thought it was: plus you’re interested to talk more and get even deeper on the subject. 

Here are the top signs you’re an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations.

1) Small talk turns you off

Small talk has its place, and sometimes the topic of the weather really can be relevant and interesting. 

But by and large, if you find yourself turned off by too much small talk then it’s one of the big signs you’re an intellectual at heart.

You have likely tried: 

In a group of friends or colleagues, too much small talk generally makes you switch off and go silent. 

In a one-on-one scenario of too much meaningless chit chat, you’re likely to nod and smile politely while mentally checking out. 

Small talk is a good way to say hi or check in, but when it goes beyond that to real time and energy devoted to irrelevant gossip or commentary, you completely lose interest. 

2) Deep subjects pique your interest

You’re more interested in conversations that go below the surface and even connect themes that sometimes might be separated or considered as different items. 

For example, how can we balance the many positives and conveniences of technological growth and the internet age with the increasing isolation many people seem to be feeling and rising mental illness rates?

Is there really a connection, or is more time on our own just revealing our insecurities more fully? 

How will the rise of AI affect what it means to be human and change society for the better or worse?

These are the kinds of subjects you want to talk about!

Whatever field you work in or have an educational background in, you aren’t limited to that. 

You love hearing about people’s areas of expertise and learning new things. 

3) You’d rather have an interesting disagreement…

Deep conversations aren’t always sunshine and roses. Real disagreements obviously can arise and the topics can get intense. 

One of the top signs you’re an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations is that you don’t mind this. 

In fact, you find it interesting. 

You have certain subjects and conversations which get you emotional or upset, and other people have their own set of triggers. 

You find this interesting to observe and you also value the kind of insights and discussions that can arise out of real disagreement. 

Pretending to agree with somebody or failing to think something through is fake and boring. 

You’d prefer to hear a person’s real thoughts and ponder the real roots of an argument and what it can mean in terms of what’s being discussed. 

Even if you conclude the person or people you are talking to are ignorant or simply factually incorrect after talking it over with them, you will find it interesting to internally observe and reflect on why they’re wrong and exactly what they are wrong about.

4) …Than a boring agreement

words to add on your vocab 9 signs you're an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations

You’d rather have a respectful disagreement than a boring agreement. 

That’s because while it feels good to just agree with those around you and boost whatever they say, it doesn’t always lead to very deep conversations

As someone who enjoys getting at the meat of a topic and digging below the surface, you find facile agreement and back-patting boring. 

You may be group-oriented or more individualistic. 

But either way, even in a group setting based on shared values, you appreciate the place of some honest rivalry and disagreement. 

Life’s not a babbling brook of constant contentment, and as long as there’s respect, you find a bit of disagreement healthy and interesting. 

Which brings me to the next point… 

5) You love healthy debate

For those of us who did debate in high school or university, we know how rewarding it can be. 

In particular, being asked to convincingly represent both sides of contentious issues or dilemmas can really sharpen your critical thinking skills

Healthy debate can be characterized by three necessary components:

  • Mutual respect among the participants and not bringing it to the level of personal attacks and ad hominem;
  • Debate along rational or logical lines, rather than just contrarianism for its own sake, which is a waste of time and energy;
  • Responding and adapting to what the other person is actually saying and listening in turn rather than only trying to railroad the debate in a set direction. 

As long as it has these three elements in play, a healthy debate is always right up your alley!

6) You investigate and research on your own

Next up in the signs you’re an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations is that you investigate and research on your own. 

You come to conversations prepared to bring up what you’ve discovered and researched. 

In other words, you hold up your end of the bargain. 

You can meet someone fascinating, but if you haven’t the faintest clue what they’re talking about, you’re not going to get a ton out of the interaction. 

This is why you have natural curiosity on your own, and even when you’re not talking to somebody interesting there’s a very high chance you’re:

  • Thinking of something interesting;
  • Reading, watching or experiencing something interesting;
  • Traveling, exploring or working in something interesting.

This leads directly into the next point: 

7) And bring up what you find out in conversations

What you find out on your own and experience in your life are all perspectives and facts that you bring to bear in your conversations. 

Talking to somebody is far from just an abstract endeavor for you. 

While you may get into talking about geopolitics or the economy, your favorite subjects may tend to be the closest to home:

Conversations about psychology, about how trauma shapes us, about why relationships are so hard, or about whether human nature is fundamentally good or bad.

Furthermore, what do we mean by good and bad, and who defines it?

This turn into the more philosophical is a hallmark of the deep thinker and the person who loves deep conversations. 

You understand the key truth that many times the questions we ask are just as important and interesting – if not more – as the answers and conclusions we reach. 

8) You love hearing different life experiences and perspectives

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Deep conversations come from deep people

But this isn’t always some obvious outer “tell” that determines the “deep” from the “shallow.”

As we all know, you can have a deeper and more interesting conversation with a janitor than with a CEO. 

There aren’t outer markers on who is interesting or not, and that’s one of the keys of somebody who truly cherishes profound conversations. 

They are not conversational elitists. 

In fact, those who think some people are too “basic” or simple to be worth talking to are often the shallowest people of all. 

The truth is that it’s often the ordinary folks working hard and struggling at the bottom who have the most authentic and fascinating perspectives, because they haven’t been shielded from the harsh realities of life the way some in the upper echelons have.  

There are rich and poor, smart and artistic, hardworking and lazy, who all have their interesting points of view: but the point is that you are open to hearing from people of all walks of life, not just people that corporate society may consider a “success.” 

9) You’re open to hearing perspectives you find weird but interesting

The fact of the matter is that not every deep conversation is convincing or normal. 

Some conversations are deep and also uncomfortable, or deep but also just…strange. 

Yet one of the top signs you’re an intellectual at heart who cherishes deep conversations is that you’re willing to tolerate and take an interest in weirdness as long as the subject’s meaningful. 

Bizarre conspiracies and crazy talk may not keep your attention for long, but you’re still curious why people believe certain far-out things and how they end up choosing such theories. 

At the end of the day, even if you find a topic strange or lacking credibility, you’d rather discuss the wider issues around it than just ignore its weirder sides or dismiss somebody who’s a bit of a kook. 

Keep it deep

Keeping it deep is a good thing.

Not every conversation has to be a profound exploration, but it doesn’t hurt if it touches on some deep issues and matters of significance. 


Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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