As humans one of our favorite past times is chatting with people. Whether that be our friends, someone we meet in line at the grocery store, or even a fellow passenger on the train. It seems that it is almost a part of our nature to be nosy at times. When we see new people we are intrigued and idly curious about them. Especially for extroverts, they can easily strike up a conversation and pull you in to this safe space where you feel comfortable enough to speak freely.

In a time of social media and technology, not many people prefer face-to-face interactions. And it took a global pandemic for people to realize how important these in-person interactions are.

Why Face-to-Face?

There was a study conducted by University of Waterloo (Canada)’s M. Mahdi Roghanizad and Cornell University’s Vanessa Bohns (2017) that analyzed what role in-person versus email-based communication plays in interpersonal persuasion. And surprise, surprise, what they found was that in-person interactions are much more useful and have greater impact compared to emails.

When it comes to in-person interactions, a majority of the conversation relied on trust which in turn activates our ability to be empathetic.

“Establishing trust, then, seems to be important when your request is not that someone perform a favor, but simply that the other person feel that it’s OK to self-disclose to you.”

Psychology Today

Meeting someone face-to-face allows you to really get to know them not only through verbal expression but also through body language. You can learn only so much about a person through emails, texts, and social media. When you are in-person, it is a whole new playing field. It is a vulnerable time and how people react in those scenarios tells you a lot about them.

A Skill to Learn

Every interaction we have with someone does not have to be a give-and-take relationship. We are so used to asking for favors or only reaching out to people when we need them that we forget how good it feels to meet people just for the heck of it.

And this is no easy task.

Extroverts are known for being outgoing and vibrant individuals, but how they present themselves and get people to talk is quite a talent. People who are naturally extroverted make you feel important in a conversation. They care about what you have to say and are active listeners. They will ask questions, react, and make you feel safe. And they can do this with complete strangers which is why most people are so awestruck by extroverts. But this is a talent that has to be cultivated. Every person is different and they react differently. there is no set formula, per say, to get people to open up. It is something you have to work at like a skill.

As an introverted individual myself, I can say that having this ability is not just limited to extroverts. You can be an introvert and still get people to open up to you in private settings. Personally, I do not feel comfortable enough to strike up a conversation with a stranger as it is a bit nerve-wrecking for me. But in close groups, I have had interactions where people have opened up to me.

“First, you have to be yourself. Be authentic. Then it’s about being a curious person and a good listener. Remember that stories make people feel at ease, especially if you can show your vulnerabilities.”

USA Today

I guess the easiest way to let people know that they can trust you is by being unfiltered. When you are in group settings or even out in public, try to be more yourself without filtering conversations and actions. The more you free and open you are, the easier it will be for people to be attracted to your energy and crave your company.

Establishing Close Relationships

Looking back at any of your long relationships with friends or partners you probably realize that one of you made the first step by opening up. One of you broke the ice and trusted the other enough to let them in.

Now I am not saying that you should learn your heart and soul out to every stranger you meet. In in your initial interactions, let them reveal more than you do. This will give you time to try and figure out whether or not you want to keep this relation going. My only advice to you would be to keep an open mind. Who knows, maybe this person will be in your life for years to come and all it took was a single “hello.”

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Getting People to Open Up

There are five easy steps to that will help you to get people to open up and start a conversation with you:

  1. Pay Attention – This is probably the easiest thing you can do to start making connections with people. Pay close attention to things they say to you in your initial interactions. And this can be something as simple as their name or even where they are from.
  2. Find a Connection – A simple way to get someone talking is to start on common ground. Maybe you are waiting in a long queue, so discuss you shared misery. Maybe you have been to their hometown before. Start small and allow the conversation to take shape from there.
  3. Avoid Making Assumptions – The easiest way to turn someone off is by making assumptions about them. Especially if they are a stranger and this is your first interaction, try to maintain a cordial and respectful demeanor. You have no clue what the person is going though so why start off on the wrong foot.
  4. Ask Questions – Based on what the other person gives you, ask questions to let them know that you are interested in what they are saying. Try to avoid very specific questions because you do not want to come off as nosy and make them uncomfortable. Start with generic questions and allow them to reveal specific information to you if they choose. Slip these questions into your conversation naturally without playing a game of 20 questions. This isn’t an interview.
  5. Know When to Back Off – Every person you meet and have a conversation with will not become your best friend or soulmate. If you feel the other person retracting or getting uncomfortable, simply change the subject. And if you get a feeling that the conversation is not going anywhere, then let it fizzle out. That is completely okay.

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