“I’m hard to talk to. I never know what to say, so I come off as cold or snobbish. I want to have friends, but I find the getting-to-know-you process so difficult. How can I become easy to talk to?”
Do you feel like you’re bad at talking to people? It may comfort you to know that a lot of people feel this way at times. But if you’re an introvert and don’t have faith in your people skills, building long-lasting relationships can be difficult. The following guide is on how to become more pleasant to talk to and how to get better at talking to people.
Learning how to use confident body language when you’re around other people is a crucial step into becoming someone who looks friendly and easy to talk to. If you look unapproachable, people will avoid talking to you or feel uncomfortable during the conversation without even realizing why.
Crossing your arms, using a low and monotonous tone of voice, avoiding eye contact, and flat affect (not showing facial expressions) can make someone feel like you don’t want to be talking to them.
Practice getting comfortable with eye contact. Eye contact in conversation shouldn’t be a staring contest. It should feel generally natural and pleasant. Make sure to smile and avoid being on your phone when you want to talk to people.
Surprisingly or not, one of the first things people mention as a quality of someone who is easy to talk to is not talking at all. It’s how well they listen.
People usually love talking about themselves. And not many people are exceptional listeners. If you’re an introvert, you will likely have a head start on learning to be a great listener. And that means you’re already on your way to becoming someone that others consider easy to talk to!
Listening and showing your interest in the other person makes you pleasant to talk to. To be a good listener, don’t interrupt. Nodding and making encouraging sounds (like “mmhmm”) can help your conversation partner understand that you are listening to them and that you want to hear what they have to say.
To be an excellent listener, try going beyond the words the person in front of you is saying. Pay attention to their tone, body language, and emotions. Ask yourself what they’re trying to say without words.
We feel that people are easy to talk to when we feel heard and understood when we speak to them. To make other people feel understood, practice the art of emotional validation.
Let’s say your friend was just dumped by her boyfriend. You may feel that saying, “I never liked him anyway. You’re too good for him,” will make her feel good about herself. After all, you’re saying she deserves better.
But it may end up having the opposite effect. Your friend may feel as though she was wrong to like him and that she shouldn’t feel upset. She may then judge herself for feeling the way she does.
Instead, a more validating thing to say is, “I’m so sorry, I know you loved him. I understand that you’re in a lot of pain right now. Breakups are tough.”
Let your friends know that their feelings are safe with you. Remind them that their feelings are valid, even if they don’t seem to make sense.
Become your friend’s best cheerleader and support. Make sure your friends know that you believe in them and that you think they’re fantastic.
Compliments are always good to hear as long as they’re sincere (don’t give compliments if you’re looking to get something in return). Make it a challenge to notice and mention something positive about each person you talk to.
Refrain from complimenting things like weight loss and other sensitive topics until you know someone quite well. Instead, focus on complimenting things like their efforts in school and work or traits like kindness and consideration.
You can read a guide on giving sincere compliments to help make this process feel more natural.
Do you feel like you can talk to someone you think is judging you? Or would you feel uncomfortable? One of the best ways to become easier to talk to is to work on our judgment of others.
People can tell you’re judging them even if you don’t say anything. Making a face or rolling your eyes after a conversation partner has shared something can leave them feeling vulnerable and hurt.
Instead, practice adopting an accepting attitude, even when people express different opinions. We can learn from people with different backgrounds, tastes, beliefs, and behaviors.
Remember that there’s a difference between feelings and behaviors. You don’t have to be accepting of actions that harm you or anyone else. It can be good to voice your disapproval in these cases, depending on the time, place, and context.
Judgment of others is often tied to fears of being judged ourselves. High expectations of ourselves often go hand-in-hand with high expectations of others. If this sounds like you, our article on overcoming the fear of being judged may help.
It’s easiest for people to talk about things we have in common. In fact, two of the biggest factors in forming friendships are similarity and proximity. Friends who aren’t similar tend to live close to each other and become friends through proximity.
A straightforward way to find something in common is to consider what brought you to the same place. If you’re in line at a pet store, you both likely have pets and can discuss joys and challenges. If you regularly attend the same pub quiz, you may have similar interests and recommend podcasts or books to each other.
You can also ask questions like, “Have you been here before?” to find more common ground. If they say yes, you can ask them for more details about the event. If not, you can tell them about it or share that it’s your first time, too.
What should you do if you feel that you have nothing in common with others? Read our guide on what to do if you have nothing in common with anyone.
Learning how to be easy to talk to involves learning how to be pleasant to be around. Learning how to be more pleasant and agreeable is all about paying attention to people around you and considering their needs.
For example, if someone comes in from outside during a hot day, you can offer a glass of water. If you’re talking to someone at night, suggest walking them home or to a bus stop.
Actions don’t have to be big to make the people you’re talking to feel appreciated.
Related: How to get along with others.
Many of us tend to try to help or “fix” other people’s problems. We want to show that we care and possibly even that we’re “useful” to have around. However, our advice or attempt to problem-solve may leave our friend or conversation partner confused or even frustrated and upset.
If you do want to offer advice, it’s good to ask before doing so. Practice saying things like, “Are you looking for advice, or do you just want to vent?” and “Do you want my opinion?” Often, people just want to be heard.
Mastering the right type of questions is an art. Certain questions can only be answered in one-word answers, which doesn’t leave your conversation partner much to go on. Open-ended questions are more likely to lead to interesting discussions.
The best people to talk to are people who are comfortable in their skin. Being around comfortable people lets us ease into safety and comfort. We can chalk this down to coregulation. As social beings, we’re constantly influenced by the emotions of people around us. When others feel comfortable and safe, we’re more likely to feel comfortable ourselves. If someone is stressed around us, we have to be careful not to get too stressed.
The more work you put into becoming secure and confident, the more comfortable people will be around you, making it more likely that they will see you as someone who is easy to talk to. Therefore, improving your self-esteem can make you easier to talk to (which in turn will help you improve your self-esteem even more!).
People who suppress their emotions are judged as less agreeable and more interpersonally avoidant than those who show their feelings. This makes others judge them as more difficult to talk to.
Expressing your feelings in conversations can make you seem more relatable and easier to talk to. Try to find the balance between sharing something too personal and something that is too dry and impersonal.
Sharing details about your digestive difficulties or breakup will probably be too personal, especially if the person you’re talking to isn’t a good friend. On the other hand, they probably won’t be interested in hearing what you head for breakfast unless they’re a serious foodie.
When you share your feelings, make sure to use “I feel” sentences. This will help you stay focused on your emotions rather than just venting. There’s a difference between saying, “I’m frustrated because the bus left early and I missed it,” and saying, “the bus driver left five minutes before the scheduled time, the idiot.” Venting and speaking our feeling at people can make others feel uncomfortable.
Read our guide if you struggle to be expressive.
Using humor can make people you talk to feel more comfortable by showing that you don’t take yourself (or life) too seriously.
One simple technique for bringing humor into the conversation is to smile and laugh more when other people are trying to be funny. Pay attention to what makes something funny to others.
A typical “method” is to give an unexpected answer to a straightforward or rhetorical question. For example, if you’re a broke student, sitting around with other broke students, and someone asks you about your new job, saying something like “I’m almost ready to retire” is funny, because everyone knows that the reality is far from it.
Of course, it can be intimidating to make jokes if you don’t believe that you’re funny. That’s why we have a guide on how to be more funny.
Someone is easy to talk to when they are kind, empathetic, non-judgemental, and present. That means that they listen to what the other person is saying without judging, trying to fix, or just waiting for their turn to talk.
Try to adopt an attitude of assuming others have good intentions. Try to listen without judging, ask questions, and be expressive with your feelings. Show others that you enjoy talking to them.