In this article, let’s review how to talk to people, what makes you easy to talk to, and how to talk to anyone, anywhere. If you find it hard to talk to people, while you see how easy it can be for others, then this article is for you.
What Makes It Hard For You To Talk To People
Let’s review a few reasons why you may find it hard to talk to people and hold conversations.
1. You may not know why people talk in the first place
If you don’t know the goal of a conversation, particularly social conversation, then you may find yourself lost, like a tourist without a map, when trying to participate in conversations.
As humans, we have social conversations for a variety of reasons that are not necessarily visible. Here are a few examples:
- We talk to connect and build friendships with others
- We talk to find common interests and common goals
- We talk to diminish stress – problems start to seem smaller when we share them
- We talk to celebrate success – success is even more enjoyable when others acknowledge it
- We talk to find reasons to be optimistic and happy
- We talk to feel that “we’re not crazy” – we seek to validate ourselves. We kind of “check” that what we’re doing actually makes sense.
- We even talk to strangers to seek respect and appreciation – especially when those strangers are the kind of people we want to be friends with.
There are many emotional and friendship-based reasons for having a social conversation. Now that you’re aware of some of the main goals of chats, try and focus on using these.
Use them as your unspoken, mental map for conversation. When talking to people, keep them at the back of your mind. They’ll help you make sense of the conversation.
2. You may think that talking is a mechanical process
Another reason why you might find it hard to talk to people is that you think talking follows a sequence. You may think it’s an A-B-C-D process, with a starting point and a specific result at the end. You may sometimes think that there should be an organized agenda for conversation.
You’d be right if it’s a business meeting, a medical visit or a consultation with an attorney. But in social conversation, there is usually no end-goal. There is no specific result to expect.
A social conversation also doesn’t have to have a direction. Each time you or others take your turn to talk, what you say may launch the conversation in a new direction or give it a new feel. Once you understand this, you can easily talk to anyone.
3. You may always try and find the LOGIC behind what’s being said
When talking to people, you might be stuck trying to find the logic behind each sentence that is spoken. You may be trying to piece together every utterance, trying to see how it logically fits with the others.
There is more to conversation than just the logic. And if you only focus on the logic, then you might miss out and feel like you’re left out of the conversation.
Conversations have many ingredients. Here are some of them:
- Sharing stories, experiences, and opinions, just for the sake of sharing
- Laughter and silliness
- And how all of the above affects the friendship or the potential for friendship
If you’re only focused on the logical part of talking, then you might find yourself having very boring and monotone conversations. I’m sure you’ve had those with some people who can only speak about one or two subjects and can only discuss them in a logical (step by step) way.
Don’t be like them. See the big picture of what conversation is made of, not just the logic.
4. You don’t practice talking to people often enough
To get better at talking to people, you need to practice it enough and keep practising for the rest of your life. You can only get better from here.
If every time you try to have a conversation, it comes off awkward, then you need to realize that it’s a temporary situation. By practising, you start to get rid of that awkwardness. You start to find the smooth rhythms of conversation and you become less and less awkward.
You need to realize that your enemy here is giving up too early. Maybe every time you have an awkward conversation, you stop practising for months just to “recover.”
If that’s the case, then you’re going to take a very long time to improve your conversation skills. Instead, commit to solving this problem as soon as possible.
How To Talk To Anyone, Anywhere
In this section, I want to share with you some of my best tips for talking to people. You can use them when talking to strangers, to friends and friends of friends, and when talking to people at a party.
1. Talk about what’s surrounding you
Wherever you are, you can always start the conversation by talking about the context – or what brought you together. If the conversation is a painting, then the context is the frame around it. For example:
- If you’re in a local meetup, then you can start by talking about the theme or the occasion of that meetup.
- If it’s a networking event, like a seminar or conference, then you can talk about the subject of the conference.
- If it’s a dinner party or a birthday party, you can always start by talking about the mutual friend that brought you together. You can exchange about how each of you met and how long you’ve known the host or the friend who’s birthday it is.
You can apply this anywhere. The easiest and most natural way to start conversations is to talk about the thing that made you physically meet in the first place. Just start by talking about the context: what brought you together.
2. Get to know each other
Once you talk about what brought you together, it’s time to figure out which kind of person you’re talking to and tell them what kind of person you are.
You start by sharing basic facts about your lives. These have to do with your occupation, your work history, where you’re from, which part of town you live in, and similar basic facts. You can then transition to leisure topics like hobbies, interests, and what you do for fun and entertainment.
Every once in awhile, mention a related story from your life. The other person you’re talking to will naturally do the same thing. You can also share stories and experiences from other people’s lives, not necessarily something that you went through. You can even mention stories you just heard of or read about.
As you casually talk, you’re not only sharing information and facts about yourself, but also what kind of person you are. This is as important as the conversation itself. If you don’t give people an idea about who you are, then they’ll have trouble relating to you.
If they don’t relate to you then the conversation goes nowhere and you’re not able to become friends with them.
3. Find things in common as you talk
As you’re talking to someone, and going from subject to subject, making small talk, you’ll stumble upon things you have in common.
When that happens, point it out. Tell them that you think the same thing, or that you’ve been through the same experience, or have the same opinion.
You just point it out casually. No need to make a big deal out of it, as that can make you sound like you’re trying too hard to be liked.
Commonalities are a big part of making friends. The more commonalities you have, and the rarer those are, the stronger the connection you’ll have. This means that you’ll talk longer, you’ll want to stay in touch, and potentially build a friendship.
4. Be positive and cheerful when you talk to people, especially at first
When talking to someone new, they generally have no idea if you like them or not. And if you don’t have the habit of being cheerful and enthusiastic about getting to know them, they’ll start to wonder if you actually like talking to them at all.
You need to get out of your way to show them that you’re happy to discover who they are. You’re discovering something new: them, so be enthusiastic and somewhat excited about it.
Once you do this a few times, you’ll start to see positive reactions from people. They’ll start to be cheerful themselves, want to talk to you longer, and even stay in touch with you.
In a way, you need to give them positive feedback about what they’re saying. For example, if they’re talking about a project or a career move they’re about to make, then be optimistic about it. Talk as if you believe in them and as if you are very confident that they’ll be successful at it.
5. Listen… But do it the advanced way
You’ve probably heard advice on how to do active listening. You’ve heard that “you got two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk.” And you’ve probably heard that you should reformulate back what you’ve heard.
That’s all fine and good, but there is more.
You can go beyond that, take your listening skills to the next level, and supercharge the good impact you have during a conversation. Here are a few tips for you:
- When listening, be present and stay focused. Don’t let your thoughts distract you.
- Be slow to assume that you “got it.” Be curious instead of eager to assume you understood.
- Listen to what they said, but also why they’re saying it.
- Are they trying to impress you?
- Are they seeking validation that what they’re doing is “okay” and “makes sense”?
- Are they trying to give you an image of what kind of person they are?
- Are they trying to show that they’re unique and have interesting opinions?
- Are they talking about places and experiences they think you could both go do together?
- Listen for how they’re feeling. Whatever they’re saying could be a reflection of what they’re feeling, and the way you talk and what you talk about should take that emotional state into account.
There is much more to listening than just “active listening strategies” especially when it comes to making friends.
If you want to meet great people and use conversation to become friends with them, then be sure to listen to what’s behind what people say – not just what they said. The list above is a great starting point on how to do that.
6. Bring something to the table – give value in conversations
If you want to talk confidently, then make sure you’re bringing something to the table. When you know that just by being there and talking, you’re making things better, you start to have a confidence that is almost unshakable.
So what kind of value should you bring?
If all else fails, if you don’t know, if you’re confused, then stick to bringing good emotions and feelings to the interaction. In how you talk and how you react, make sure you’re feeling good, which makes others feel good. Emotions are contagious.
Other types of value you can bring to the conversation are:
- Just the fact that you’re present and keep them company
- Just the fact that you’re listening, understanding the other person or showing empathy
- Sharing your unique opinions, point of view, and perspective on what’s being discussed
- Releasing the tension by any type of humor
- Sharing stories and facts that might be useful to someone who’s seeking answers and solutions
- Introducing people to each other, etc.
Again, if all else fails, stick with bringing positive emotions. Everyone loves to talk to people who seek to give, rather than just take from social situations are the ones who get invited everywhere.
People not only want to talk to them often but also build long term friendships with them.
How To Be Easy To Talk To
Another important aspect is to make yourself a person who is easy to talk to. This is important when you are in social gatherings where you go to meet existing friends or new friends.
There are some times where you want to be left alone to work, or just be by yourself. But when socializing, you can adopt a very different attitude to signal to others that you’re ready for some fun and social connection.
1. Have an open body language when talking to people
Smile when you make eye contact; nod when someone talks to you, utter “listening signals” like “uh-huh” “yeah” or “gotcha” or “really!” these shows the other person that they have your attention.
2. Easily laugh when they’re trying to be funny
You don’t have to do this indefinitely, but just know that sometimes people just want to feel better about themselves, don’t deprive them of that. You need to understand that, by making jokes, they’re trying to have a good time and release the tension. That’s a good thing, help them if you can.
3. Agree (even just relatively) with what they say
You’re not there to debate every issue and get to the bottom of what’s the absolute truth. You’re just talking. You’re not there to find out who’s right and who’s wrong. You’re just there to connect.
There are some times when you are debating with your friends and really going at it. That’s okay, but do that once you really get to know them. At first, don’t make them feel wrong and/or dumb.
4. Tolerate different views from your own
If you demonstrate you understand there are many ways to look at any subject, then people will have a very easy time talking to you. It’s okay to have strong opinions, you just need to remember that others are entitled to their opinions too.
5. Don’t show off your knowledge too much
People will know that you’re an easy person to talk to and be around if you’re not constantly dropping facts at them. Don’t start telling people about what they don’t know and what they don’t get.
When they share something with you, avoid telling them “ I already knew all that!” or trying to one-up them with “Well, you don’t know the half of it…” Even if you already know what they’re talking about, give them a chance to share their unique perspective on it. Give them a chance to shine.
Remember, talking to people is one of the most important skills you can ever learn. It helps you connect with new people, improve your existing friendships, and get inside social circles that are beyond what you think you can access right now.
If you commit to learning the techniques of conversation, you’ll soon have the right friends in your life. Those friends will not only like you and want to see you more, but they’ll also introduce you to the friends they’re most proud of having. You become top-of-mind for them and access their best groups of friends.