How to see if someone wants to talk to you – 12 ways to tell

Scientifically reviewed by Viktor Sander B.Sc., B.A.

How do you know if someone wants to talk to you?

In this article, you’ll learn 12 ways to see if someone wants to talk to you, both before you approach someone, and while you’re in a conversation with that person.

You can jump straight to the sections here:

How to know if someone wants to start a conversation with you

How to know if someone wants to continue talking with you

Part 1: How to know if someone wants to start a conversation with you

Whenever you’re about to walk up to someone, pay attention to the following to figure out if they want to talk to you.

1. Smile and see if they return your smile when you get eye contact

This one is great if you lean towards the shy side.

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Has the person across the crowded room been looking your way? If your eyes meet, smile, and see what happens. If the person smiles back that’s a sure sign that they are open to having a conversation with you. Smiling is a universally accepted sign which in a way is a precursor to “hello.”

Be careful that the eye contact is mutual and you aren’t staring down your interest with hungry eyes.

2. Are they leaning toward you?

Depending on what social setting you are in, you may be surrounded by other people. If there is someone on the outskirts of your conversation or group they may lean in towards you. Humans are social creatures, and chances are they want to be included.

Maybe the setting is a coffee shop- and you are alone. If a person is sitting near you and leaning towards you, you can see that as a subconscious sign that the person is open for interaction.

Our bodies don’t lie. If someone leans towards you, don’t be afraid to say something and start a conversation. Chances are, they are waiting for you to do just that.

Here’s my guide for how to start a conversation with someone you don’t know.

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3. Are they removing objects or barriers between you?

You really have to pay attention to notice this one. Speaking of body language, have you noticed objects, people, or obstructions in between you and the other person have been moved out of the way? This can be as simple as a beer mug being moved from between you and the other person, a pillow on the couch between you or the position of a handbag.

Removing anything, big or small, from between yourself and another is a telling sign that this person is ready to be closer to you. This is a subtle and subconscious way of showing it.

4. Are they here for the same reason as you?

The social setting is key here. Are you at a friend’s house warming dinner party or a similar scenario?

If you have a shared social setting you automatically have a shared interest. By a shared setting I mean you should ask yourself this question, “Why am I here?” If the answer is something like, “To celebrate so and so,” you’re already halfway there. If you are gathered in a place for a specific purpose, so is everyone else around you. Maybe you’re attending a wedding, or a concert to see a band you really like.

Use the context of the social setting you’re in to gauge the interest of the people around you. Most likely, since you are all in the same place there is common ground to be had, and to be discussed.

Generally, when we have common ground with someone we are much more open to having a conversation. This is an easier conversation to have, and we are generally curious as to why we both ended up in the same place, together. Let the setting do the work for you in this one, and open up a conversation by reading the room around you.

In other words: If the people around you are there for the same reason you are, they are more likely to want to interact with you.

5. Are they looking in your general direction?

Availability is the biggest factor in determining if someone wants to start a conversation with you. To test if someone is open and available to have a conversation you must be observant.

Take a moment, and check the other person out. Are they preoccupied with something else that looks important? Or are their eyes scanning the room, looking for interaction?

If someone is looking in your general direction, that is a sign that they are open for interaction. (Unless they are looking at something next to you, like a TV-screen)

Sometimes people are shy, and act preoccupied because they feel uncomfortable, not because they don’t want to talk!

Because of this, I recommend the following:

If they look in your general direction, it’s a sign that they want to talk to you. However, if they look preoccupied, know that they might just be nervous.

You can still start a conversation with them and use the tell signs below to figure out if they are just nervous or actually don’t want to be disturbed.

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Part 2: How to know if someone wants to continue talking with you

Look for these traits to know if someone wants to talk to you while you’re in a conversation with that person.

6. Are they digging deeper?

Once you’ve started talking, ask yourself if the person tries to get to know things about you or what you’re talking about. In other words, are they digging deeper?

Once you’ve made it past the initial “Hi, hello” a good way to tell if the person is still interested is to track how many questions they are asking you. Are they making an effort? Or are you doing the heavy lifting and asking all the questions? If you are doing all the talking, and asking all the questions, and don’t see any effort by them to continue the conversation, that’s a sign that they aren’t interested in making conversation.

Most people feel uncomfortable when they talk to someone they just met. Therefore, I usually make conversation for around 5 minutes before I expect them to do any digging. Before that, they might just as well want to talk but just be too nervous to come up with things to say.

But if I’ve been talking for more than 5 minutes and still have to do all of the work, I excuse myself and move on.

The conversation should feel two-sided. The person you are talking to should want to get to know you – and the best way to do that is to ask questions.

7. Are they giving you information about themselves?

The more a person wants to continue a conversation, the more information are they likely to share about themselves. They want YOU to find them interesting. So as you are working hard to ask them questions, they are making sure that what you get from them is worth your while. If their responses to your questions are dead ends, it’s likely they want you to stop asking them questions, and end the conversation.

On the reverse side of this, make sure you dare to open up a little bit about yourself. When we open up, our conversations become interesting and we enable a friendship to develop.

Some people are just uncomfortable sharing things about themselves. In other words, if someone shares a lot of information about themselves with you, it’s a clear sign that they want to talk to you. If they share little, it could also be a sign that they want to end the conversation. Personally, I like to use this hint together with looking at the direction of their feet…

8. Where are their feet pointing?

Have you ever heard, “If a person is interested in you they will point their feet towards you while you are speaking?”

This is an age-old trick, but there is truth behind the old saying. If you are in the middle of a conversation, take a moment to look down. Which direction are your feet pointed, and where are the other persons?

If they are pointed towards you that’s a great sign. If they point in the same direction as your feet are pointing, that’s also a great sign. It could be mirroring, which I cover below, or they want to move in the same direction that you are moving.

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However, if they are pointing away from you or in a direction your feet are not pointing, it’s a strong sign that they want to end the conversation.

9. Are they mirroring you?

While you are speaking, pay attention to your physical body. You may notice that your hand gestures and posture are being mirrored right back at you. Studies have shown that humans turn into copycats when we are interested in another person.

We just can’t help it, we want to do anything we can to assure the other person we want to continue being around them, and value what they have to contribute. It’s our way of showing our desire to connect.

On the flip side, if you’re making gestures with your hands and the other person crosses their arms, that could be a sign that they might want to end the conversation, especially if their feet are pointing away.

10. How are they laughing?

Laughter is a great way to connect, and usually, we don’t even have to be that funny to earn someone’s chuckles. People are generally quick to laugh at just about anything after the first few minutes of conversation.

Once you are in the midst of a conversation, don’t be afraid to show off your personality a bit, and have fun. If they laugh sincerely about your jokes, that’s a good sign that they want to continue talking with you. If they give you a more polite laugh and combine that with looking away or scanning the room, it’s a sign that you might want to end the conversation.

11. Are they listening attentively to what you are saying?

You’ve probably noticed when someone is listening to you attentively: You can see how they give you their full attention.

At other times, it’s like people seem to have something else on their minds: Their facial expressions and responses are slightly delayed and feel a bit fake. When you say something, they respond “Oh, really”, like if they are reading from a script rather than speaking from their hearts.

If a person’s responses seem artificial, it could be a sign that they’ve mentally changed they’ve gone “mentally idle” and would like to end the conversation.

12. Ask them if they’re on their way somewhere

It’s hard to know if someone’s just uncomfortable or doesn’t want to talk. I have a favorite question that I ask when I’m in doubt:

“Maybe you’re on your way somewhere?” (In a nice voice, so it doesn’t sound like I WANT them to leave)

When I ask this, it gives them a way out if they, in fact, want to end the conversation, without coming off as rude. On the other hand, if they DO want to continue talking, they might say something like

“No, I’m not in a hurry” or “Yeah, but that can wait”.

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (23)

23 thoughts on “How to see if someone wants to talk to you – 12 ways to tell”

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  1. I’ve had this guy in my science class where in the beginning of the year he would make eye contact with and well i told his friend that i was interested in him even though I didn’t know that he was friends with him so I heard from this other person that my friend told him what I said…later on he would always look at me when I get up or he’s me..but one time I heard that my friend said I liked and I had a serious talk to him that I don’t but he informed me that the guy was telling him i liked him and to get with me due to me being “cute” but now every time we’re in the same class he looks at me.and sometimes he tries to get himself attention ..i try to not seem obvious that I’m interested but today I walked in and he was sitting next the girl I talk to in that class , when he saw me he stood up..and this classmate was talking to me , yet the guy tried to be part of it, we don’t even talk at all…the guy is my type (physically) but he’s dumb. What should I do?

    Reply
  2. hi, I met a guy who is driving transit bus recently…on the day I talked to him..he told me he always noted me and wanted to talk to me but I just rush to my seat so he was not able to..he initiated our conversation and we talked till I reached my stop he even told me he remember my stop ….he constantly smiled at me and gave me eye contact..and he told me don’t forget to take his bus the next day..for next 2 days I missed his bus ..but on 2nd day I missed his bus I saw him on the road ..he honked at me and asked me why I missed his bus and told me not to miss his bus tomorrow using hand sings,.. the next day I got in his bus and he appeared to be nervous and didn’t talk much..and when I was abt to get off the bus we had a little chat and he complimented me a lot..and since I was hosting a client meeting I told him abt it and he told me he will definitely remember it and will pray for it..he told me I can do it good and he knows I am smart..the following was a weekend ..and on monday I took his bus ,,he smiled at me and even we had a eye contact for sometime..he didn’t initiate conversation and me too neither,,when I was abut to get off the bus he told me I look good,,,I don’t know weather he likes me or is he shy..I felt sad cause he didn’t talk anything to me,,I don’t know what to do…am I overthinking something that he didn’t feel..please help..

    Reply
    • Hi Liss, yeah, you’re overthinking it. He’s romantically interested in you without a doubt. He might be a bit shy or insecure though, who knows. I think you should ask for his number if you like him. Better take the first step than sitting there waiting.

      Reply
      • Hi Viktor,
        Thank You for the reply..i think he is around 39-40 of age,and i am 29..can a guy around 40s still be shy..will it look bad if i ask for his number if he is not into me,,will i ruin his impression..i am scared to take the first move..i missed his bus all these days after monday because i didnt know what to do..does the above signs i told you enough to confirm he is into me,Pls reply

      • Yes, anyone can be shy regardless of age. It’s very common. 🙂

        If he (against all reasonable signs) isn’t into you yet, he probably never will be anyway, so there’s nothing you can ruin. It’s a big compliment to be asked for your number even if he would be in a relationship or something.

        You got this!

      • Thank you Viktor,
        Eventhough i am not confident to ask his number i will take his bus and try to talk to him,,There is something that i liked in him that i miss for the last days …i will just let him know i missed not seeing him…its k i guess..
        do you have any idea to help me ask his number..asking him directly for his number looks sooo blunt…Thank you again and hoping for your reply

  3. Okay so about almost 3 years ago I had a falling out with a friend of mine now a former friend and now there are certain people that won’t talk to me and look at me weird like they’re expecting me to do something and after 3 years it still makes me feel like an outcast will someone help me?

    Reply
    • Hi

      You sound like such a nice person. 3years forget it and forget them their the out casts not you especially for wanting to make you feel that way.
      Focus on the good things in life lifes for too short. The here and now is whats important as that’s really what we can be sure of and have some control of not the past or the future. The present is yours the past is no longer and the future may or may not come. So make the most of what you do have, dont waste any more of your presious time its simply not worth it. Seriously in the time it takes to worry about such things you could have read a nice book watched a nice movie, gone for a run baked a cake, gone on a nice date or even perhaps booked a holiday or orgaised a pamper day.. Come on lets start to concentrate on you
      Lets start to love you. Why because your more important and your worth it!!
      Remember one thing ive always been told
      Time waits for no one its too precious. Its too important..

      Reply
  4. In meeting a lot of new people I find people not interested in wanting to keep the conversation going with me. 1) I tend not to like speaking about myself. I prefer to listen to the other person speak. 2) When I do introduce myself and ask questions, their responses are short, terse, even one word maybe. There is not a lot of information for me to follow up on. Maybe I’m asking more closed-ended questions. 3) They never ask me a question. 4) Their eyes are scanning the room. 5) They make an excuse to leave me. 6) When I do get a one-on-one conversation it is short lived because a third person always butts into the conversation and steals the spotlight. The person I was talking to ignores me and converses with the new person. I’m still standing there but left out of the conversation. I have to compete to get my voice heard.

    My question is what do you do at a social gathering and you pretty much gone through trying to speak to just about everybody at the party and can’t make any connections?

    Reply
    • Hey John
      This sounds terrible. I wondered if you’re lacking in confidence which may not put the other person at ease? Or maybe it’s evident that you are trying too hard?
      I’m not sure why people would react in this way. It seems particularly rude.
      I’m not a fan of talking about myself either, I feel others are more interesting than me. I’m great at asking questions and being nice, which it sounds like you are too… maybe not fret and keep it simple. Not be overly fussed what they think of you, or know that your a great person to spend time with.
      I’m good at keeping the conversation going with thoughts and questions but I used to doubt my own opinion which probably looked like I was uneasy or unsure of myself. I found mindfulness meditation really helped me feel better mentally and also unexpectedly made me feel more confident and positive. When you feel positive good people are drawn to you. And then you’ll find someone/people who you just connect with. The questions, conversation, interest is equal and mutual and it feels really great.

      Reply
    • understood your dilemma, that other people (new people) dint respond you, as you want. This may happen due to following reasons.

      1. When we talk, the sentences we speak have different tonality and pitch, for eg ” I am not coming, to watch football”. It can be pronounced in different ways using pitch. tone and pause effect like in aggressive, commanding, blunt, dominating ( which general population tend to categories and rate in mind), the same can be said in friendly, compassionate, adjusting way.

      Here you can go through some NLP books of famous readers or join some practical seminar.

      2. A certain set of characterization / description has already been fed to the receptive audience with distinctive nature or features of you. Its better if some one introduces you before on positive node depicting your success.

      3. You can use light jokes and imaginary experience of current world news affairs, ongoing issues.

      4. Catch hold of talkative and likable member by group, you can share your talks with him before meeting. It may create a positive impact on you as well as group through him.

      Reply
  5. I sometimes have issues on dates determining if the lady is having a good time or not. Might be hard to look at her feet tho that hint is a helpful one for small talk at events. I do my best to be as engaging as possible. Your recommendations helped a lot on my last first date conversationally but alas i never heard back. I have another first date tonight! Another opportunity to put these good lessons to work!

    Reply
  6. What if someone constantly talks about themselves and when you talk about your own experiences, etc. and they make few comments and just return to talking about themselves? Do you bother pointing it out or just realize they really aren’t interested in you?

    Reply
    • I’d point it out eventually if it was a close friend whose relationship I really valued. Some (most) people are actually quite self-absorbed and it’s not really about you in those cases. They may just be a little socially inept in their own way, they forget how important it is to focus on the other person. The positive thing about it is that at least they are enjoying the conversation. But in the end, you can only change your behavior, so ask yourself if you are okay with their self-absorption or not.

      But this is such a great question, I will speak more with David about this issue and see if we can come up with an even better solution for future articles. Thanks, Dee!

      Reply
      • A former roommate (A) of mine ran into a similar situation but in a group setting, where one person (B) was dominating the conversation and each time he and another person (C) tried to speak, this person (B) would cut at every pause. My roommate (A) wanted to let this other person (C) have some speaking time because that person’s voice wasn’t being given an equal share of the conversation. My suggestion to him was every time he speaks pass on the conversation to the third person (C) who was not getting speaking time and don’t ask questions or follow up with the dominant speaker (B). This gives the quiet person the chance to speak. The dominant person doesn’t need any prodding to speak because of his nature he is going to give his opinion whether the group asks for it or not.

  7. Thanks David! I usually notice if someone doesn’t want to talk they start giving shorter answers or just doesn’t seem very interested in the subject.

    Reply

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