Some people are naturally talkative and lively by nature while others are quieter. If you are unhappy about being too quiet in social situations, then you need to practice the art of conversation. Avoid simply learning from books and articles, although these are a jumping off point. Instead, set yourself some simple goals, get among people and start talking.
- Skill level:
Watch people when you are out and about, whether you are in a pub, supermarket or party. Observe how people introduce themselves, interact and ask and answer questions. Look at how the liveliest people in the group behave.
Practice asking questions and responding with a trusted friend or partner. Safe conversational openers include questions about the person's favourite sport, job and holidays. When responding to questions yourself, do not give monosyllabic replies. Ask open questions so that people cannot give a "yes" or "no" answer.
Set yourself some simple tasks in a trusted group. For example, if you and your friends meet for coffee, aim to make three conversational "openers" to encourage other people to join in. Prepare some questions/openers in advance to help you although it is better to respond to the conversation naturally. Another option is to try to make a contribution to the conversation every ten minutes or so.
Visit a shop or a garden centre and strike up a conversation with a stranger. One option would be to remark on the prices of the products. Mention the beauty of the flowers if at a garden centre. Choose an older person to talk to if you are anxious because they are often lonely and enjoy a conversation.
Join a social group, such as a club, reading group or a debating society. Prepare well by writing down the things you want to say. Make yourself speak at least once without being asked to do so.
Set yourself further goals as your confidence increases. For instance, hold a party at your house and make yourself talk to each guest.
Tips and warnings
- Enroll in a self-development or self-esteem course if the reason that you are quiet in conversations is a lack of confidence.
- Take risks when opening conversations once you feel more confident. Avoid sticking simply to safe topics, such as the weather.
- Accept all invitations to events and social gatherings even if you feel reluctant initially.
- Don't be too forward or over-eager when talking to people or you will frighten people away; remember they might be as nervous as you are.
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