How to Talk to Quiet People

Sometimes it can be difficult to work out how to talk to quiet people. That makes us feel awkward when we don’t know what to say to break the ice and start the conversation, but often you will find that once you have made that first move and opened up the conversation, even with a quiet person, that gets them warmed up and the conversation will flow from that point.

Here’s how to get started on talking with quiet people:

1. Get your approach right

Often, people are shy because they feel intimidated or feel what they say will not be well received and may even be scorned or laughed at. That’s why it is really important to approach shy people in a friendly manner, without confrontation, so that they feel comfortable talking to you.

2. Ask questions

It is unlikely that a quiet person will get the conversation started, so you’re probably going to have to do that. Don’t worry about that, though. You can easily get the conversation going with a question.

You should ask an open question which cannot easily be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that will kill the conversation before it has even started. But don’t feel that the question has to be a smart or intelligent one either. That can actually be a bad thing.

Good questions to open conversations are very simple ones that ask for the other person’s opinion, and it is a question that cannot be answered wrongly. So, ask what they did for Christmas, or where they are thinking of going on vacation this year, or something like that. They won’t feel judged and will be more likely to speak to you and give you avenues down which to develop the conversation.

3. Show patience

Quiet people may take a little while to formulate their responses or may answer in short sentences to begin with. Don’t get impatient with that and give them up as a boring person that is not worth talking to.

4. Listen actively

Listen actively and you will find little snippets of the answer which you can pick up on and use to develop the conversation on terms that the quiet person will probably find easier to respond to, as they provided the information.

5. Find good topics

If you show patience and actively listen to the quiet person, you should soon find topics which they find more engaging and easier to talk about. Those are ones on which they are comfortable and obviously have an opinion.

Try to steer the conversation more towards these topics and they should provide possibilities for lots of supplementary questions with which you can keep the conversation flowing

6. Build their trust in you

Often, quiet people are that way because they feel they cannot trust others if they open up to them. Perhaps they feel you will laugh at their opinion or confront them on it.

It’s your responsibility in the conversation to prove that you are trustworthy and they can talk to you without being judged or without some other negative reaction from you. That will make them more willing to talk to you.

7. Suggest an activity

If you find that you and the quiet person have a mutual interest, suggest that you do that activity together. It can be anything, e.g. ice skating, walking, cinema etc.

This will have several advantages:

  • You will have more things to talk about, related to the activity
  • You will probably find it easier to chat during the activity, as part of their mind will be on the activity itself and not on how tense they feel about conversing, so the talk should flow more naturally.

8. Give some positive reinforcement

We all need some positive reinforcement from time to time. That can be especially so for quiet people who might lack the confidence to talk much.

Let them know that you enjoyed talking with them and perhaps make a time to chat again. That will give a quiet person a real boost.

So, these few tips for how to talk to quiet people will help you talk to anyone, but they will particularly help you coax a quiet person out of his or her shell and converse with you more comfortably.


This entry was posted in Communication Skill and tagged how to talk to people on by admin.

About admin

Peter W. Murphy is a peak performance expert. His focus is on key distinctions that make a big difference. He enjoys going deep into a research topic to discover the often overlooked but key elements anyone can focus on to achieve much better results. Peter enjoys competitive tennis, travel, good friends, loud music and taking time to enjoy the moment.