How Can You See if Someone Wants to Continue Talking?

I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from you like the ones below. So today, I want to talk about how to know if someone wants to keep talking – or end the conversation.

“How would I know whether the person in front or on my device is really interested in talking to me? Is it just for the sake of being a good person they talk or do they really mean it?”

– Kapil B

“…how can I read the other person better? I am terrible at reading in between the lines”

– Raj P

Luckily, there are some really helpful cues we can pay attention to.

Here’s the¬†first cue:

1. Does the person seem eager to add to the conversation?

The first few minutes, people are often tense and nervous. Even if they come off as distant, that doesn’t have to mean they don’t want to talk – they might just not know what to say. But after a few minutes, when you’ve “warmed up”, you’ll notice if the person makes an effort to keep the conversation going or remains passive.

You want to look at this cue in relation to the other cues:

2. Who’s “world” have you spent the most time in?

Has the conversation mainly been around your own area of interest and things concerning your world? Or has it been mainly around your friend’s area of interest and your friend’s world?

A quick check is to ask yourself how many times you say the word “I” compared to the word “You”. If you say “I” several times more, you can balance up the conversation by asking things like:

“So that’s how I spend my weekend. What did you do?”

Naturally, this will only work if you’re genuinely interested in hearing the answer.

3. Who has done the most talking?

Generally, the person talking the most is often the person who enjoys the conversation the most. If you realize that you’re the one talking the most, make it a habit of ending your statements with a question.

“And that’s why I think X is better than Y. What do you think?”

4. Where are they pointing their feet?

People’s feet often point in the direction the would rather want to go. In group conversations, people’s feet often point towards the person they like the most or the one with the highest social status. If they want to get going, they often point the feet away from you. If they’re into the conversation, they’re often pointing the feet towards you.

This works surprisingly well to determine people’s subconscious wants, but you’ll come across exceptions too. Your safest bet is to make sure that you talk about things that concern or interest your friend.

This doesn’t mean that you want to be a people pleaser who just listens to people. You want to…

  1. Ask personal questions to find out if you have things in common (common experiences, interests, passions, world views).
  2. When you’ve found commonalities, that’s what you want to base the conversation on. When you talk about what BOTH think is interesting, you’re both likely to enjoy the conversation.

In summary

As long as you’re talking about what you’re both interested in, you can be quite sure that the person enjoys the conversation. But sometimes, the person might have to leave anyway or isn’t in the mood. Here are where the cues come in, such as what direction they point their feet and if they are eager to add to the conversation.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone you were unsure if they wanted to continue talking? What happened? Did you see any cues? I’m interested to hear your experience on this. Let me know in the comments!

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  • How to get past the small talk
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David Morin

I'm David Morin. I'm a social life expert. I'm featured in more than 20 self improvement and career sites and newspapers, among those Business Insider, Lifehacker and Thought Catalog. I live in Gothenburg, Sweden.