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How do you know if someone wants to talk to you?
In this article, you’ll learn 12 tricks 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:
Chapter 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. Do the “slight smile” test
This one is great if you lean towards the shy side. Focus on eye contact, which is the important factor here.
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. Where are they leaning?
Depending on what social setting you are in, you may be surrounded by other people. If there is someone in 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.
3. Pay attention to 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 in 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 subtle, and subconscious way of showing it.
4. Common ground
Social setting is key here. Are you at a friends house warming dinner party or a similar scenario?
If you have a shared social setting you automatically have a shared interest. By 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 from 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 powerful 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:
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.
Chapter 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.
Read my guide here on how to make conversation without getting stuck only asking 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. The rule of thumb… I mean feet
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 it 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.
However, if they are pointing toward 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?
This is huge! While you are speaking, pay attention to your physical body. You may notice that your hand gestures and posture are being mimed right back at you. Studies have shown that humans turn into cats- 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 following closely 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. Do the “way out” test on them
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”.