There seem to be two types of people in the world- shallow and deep. You probably have some idea of who deep people are. Their thoughts, feelings, and words have depth. They have the ability to see beyond the surface.
Shallow people are the complete opposite. They lack depth in their thoughts, words, feelings, and knowledge. They’re more concerned with superficial things and can’t seem to go deeper.
Highly sensitive people and introverts, and people who’re both, are more likely to be deep. Whereas extroverts and low-sensitivity people, and people who’re both, are more likely to be shallow.
Before we discuss how to stop being shallow, let’s first get good at identifying shallow people.
Signs of shallow people
Besides being an extrovert and/or low in sensitivity, following are the signs someone is likely to be a shallow person:
1. They avoid deep conversations
Since a shallow person can’t think deeply, they have little to contribute to deep conversations. So they avoid deep conversations like a plague.
They might even make fun of people who have deep conversations to cover up the inferiority they feel from not being able to take part in such conversations.
2. They avoid talking about their feelings
A shallow person cares a lot about appearances and impressing others. Talking about one’s feelings involves showing one’s vulnerable side. Since a shallow person wants to appear perfect, they avoid showing their vulnerable side even to people who’re close to them.
3. They don’t form meaningful relationships with people
A shallow person’s relationships are just like them- shallow. People form meaningful relationships with other people when they can connect deeply with them.
A shallow person lacks the ability to connect deeply with people. Their relationships hardly go beyond the pleasantries and the formalities.
4. They’re closed-minded
Thinking deeply has a lot to do with setting aside your preconceived notions, questioning your beliefs, and seeing things from different perspectives. A shallow person wants none of that. They’re content with their preferred and safe ways of thinking about the world.
5. They’re attention seekers
Since shallow people are so caught up in trying to impress others, they like having all the attention on themselves. They’ll talk loudly and over other people so they can take the lion’s share of attention in social situations.
6. They lack empathy
Shallow people have an air of selfishness to them. They seem to not care about others at all. They prefer being friends only with those who can benefit them materially. Deeper, more meaningful relationships go beyond material benefits.
7. They identify with their material possessions
More often than not, they buy things not because they need them but because they want to brag about them. They find it hard to give up their prized material possessions because losing those would for them mean losing a part of themselves.
8. They lack consideration for others and put them down
Again, it’s just a way to make themselves look better. They’ll find a weak and unassertive person and constantly put them down in front of others. The unassertive person may accept this bullying because the shallow person says, “I’m just joking”.
Yes, mutual joking and teasing is a healthy part of friendships, but of equal friendships. If the unassertive person dares to make a joke on the shallow person, the latter will get real pissed.
Why a shallow person may want to become deeper
First off, there isn’t a single person out there- deep or shallow- who doesn’t want to improve their relations with people. Most just don’t know how. Becoming a bit deeper will greatly help shallow people to connect with others, especially deep people.
When a deep person enters a relationship with a shallow person, it’s quite frustrating for the former. The shallow person may love them, but because they can’t connect with them deeply, the deep person feels a tad unsatisfied.
If you’re a shallow person trying to connect with a deep person, you don’t have to overhaul your personality overnight. But you can take small steps today to have a deeper connection with the deep people you care about.
How to stop being shallow
Following are the practical things you can do to stop being shallow:
- Improve your communication skills
- Talk more about your inner world
- Talk less about surface-level things
- Cultivate interest in deeper topics
- Be open-minded
- Practice being non-judgmental
- Unleash your creativity
- Don’t let your possessions own you
- Appreciate the beauty in simple things
1. Improve your communication skills
Overcome the tendency to talk more than you listen. Doing this simple thing will improve your relationships with deep people significantly. Even if you’re not really interested in what they have to say, the simple act of listening to them will validate them and foster a connection.
2. Talk more about your inner world
Talk more about your thoughts and feelings. When you talk about your thoughts and feelings, others are like:
“He/she is a human being I can relate to.”
It increases your closeness with people. Talk about how things make you feel. Talk about your experiences and your reactions to those experiences.
3. Talk less about surface-level things
You might love small talk and celebrity gossip, but try going deeper for once. Practice becoming a good thinker. Surround yourself with deep people and their ways of thinking will rub off on you. It’ll open up a whole new world for you.
4. Cultivate interest in deeper topics
I know interest can’t be faked. You’re interested in something or you’re not. But interest can be cultivated. Try learning more about deep topics. The more you dig into them, the more likely it is that you’ll develop an interest in them.
At the very least, try to cultivate a minimal level of interest in the things the deep people in your life care about. You don’t have to become a pro, just try to gain some basic knowledge so you can have good conversations.
5. Be open-minded
Being open-minded entails breaking out of your intellectual comfort zone often. Think and talk about the things you’ve never thought of and talked about before. If you do this regularly, you’ll leave shallowness and being boring far behind.
6. Practice being non-judgmental
We humans are judgmental by nature. The tendency is worse in shallow people. When you get tempted to criticize someone’s hairstyle or dressing sense, don’t.
Remind yourself that a person is more than their looks, and second, you’re just trying to feel better about yourself. You’re free to think what you want about people but avoid verbalizing your low opinions of superficial things about them.
7. Unleash your creativity
By being shallow, you’re not just ruining your relationships, you’re also stifling your creativity. Creativity and deep thinking go hand in hand. If you can’t stretch your mind to new horizons, you can’t become creative. Creativity and thinking outside the box show you have depth of thought.
8. Don’t let your possessions own you
You own your possessions, they don’t own you. Move away from identifying with material things to identifying with your personal qualities so that even if you lose your possessions, you won’t lose yourself.
9. Appreciate the beauty in simple things
If you’re a shallow person, you frequently miss the beauty in the simple things around you. You’re too caught up in celebrity gossip to appreciate the sunset. You’re too caught up in impressing others to appreciate movies, music, art, and poetry.
Make time for these things and your life will become more colorful, and you’ll become less shallow.
Becoming a deep person is mainly about shifting focus from the outer, superficial world to the inner world. But become too deep and you may become an impractical, overly sentimental and an off-putting person. Become too shallow and your relationships, creativity, and open-mindedness will suffer.
As with many things in life, it’s about balance. Look deeply into yourself and into things, but also keep an eye on the surface.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.