February 13, 2017 David Morin

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!

Comments (9)

  1. Maya

    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?

  2. Jason H

    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?

  3. Anonymous

    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!

  4. Dee

    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?

    • 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!

      • Jason H

        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.

  5. Mathis D

    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.

    • Good observation there Mathis, once you start to develop this “feel” for whether the other person is interested or not conversation becomes a lot easier.

      • Linus

        Yes, Viktor, SocialPro is so good that i can ask all my high profile friends to enrol

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