How To Be Easy To Talk To

Some people are great communicators. We enjoy being around them. They make us feel good about ourselves.

As a result, these master communicators win more business, make better friends, and have more romantic options.

Fortunately, this is a skill you can learn. If you put the work in, people will flock to you, too.

Learn the trick for getting people to open up, what the question-statement-question technique is, and why you should start recording yourself.

11 Tactics To Be Easy To Talk To

Here are nine tactics to become a better communicator, somebody that people love to interact with.

1. Talk About Their Favorite Topic — Themselves

Everybody’s favorite topic is themselves.

Great communicators understand this. They always focus on the other person — their lives, their worries, their dreams.

When you apply this, people will want to talk to you for hours. You will be one in a thousand — the rare person that makes them feel seen.

2. Apply the 70/30 Rule

As a rule of thumb, you should be listening 70 percent of the time, and only talk 30 percent of the time. Remember — everybody’s favorite topic is themselves.

There are some exceptions. In high-pressure situations, e.g., on a date, when the other person is clearly nervous, it’s okay to carry more of the conversational load.

But once they start to relax, it’s back to the 70/30 rule.

3. Encourage the Other Person

You must signal to the other person how interesting they are. You do so by subtly encouraging them, verbally and non-verbally.

Examples include:

  • Nod. Occasionally, when the other person makes a good point, nod your head in agreement.
  • Laugh. If the other person says something funny, reward them with a genuine laugh.
  • Mirror them. If they are talking about something particularly said, let your face reflect that sadness. If they are talking about something upbeat, become more animated.
  • Make some noise. Every so often, utter little acknowledgments:
    • “Mmm.”
    • “I see.”
    • “Really?”
    • “Ah!”

Don’t overdo it. Subtly encouraging the other person is great — becoming a lickspittle is not. Neither do you want them to feel patronized.

4. Validate Them

Many people crave validation, due to self-esteem issues.

The overachiever at work. The self-centered jock. The vain it girl.

If you can, you want to avoid these people. But sometimes, you have no choice. If your boss is a blowhard, you can’t tell them so.

In such instances, give them what they want — validate them.

But you must do it right. The validation needs to be strong enough for it to register. At the same time, you can’t be too obviously flattering them.

Here is an example:

Boss: “I just closed another client, this huge pharmaceutical company from China. Do you know how much money I just made us? Millions! Not bad for a Tuesday morning, eh?”

You: “I read about these guys in the Times. They invented a new drug for treating Alzheimer’s. That’s very exciting. When do we start?”

Instead of blatantly sucking up — “You are the best!” — you rationalize their boasting. You come up with a legitimate reason for your shared excitement (“This new drug”).

Also, you follow up with a question (“When do we start?”). This will give the validation seeker more chances to boast.

5. Use the Question-Statement-Question Rule

Some people ask one question after another. If this goes on for too long, the other person will feel interrogated and become annoyed.

You need to intersperse your questions with statements. I call this the question-statement-question rule.

Here is an example:

You: “So, why did you move to Chicago?” [question 1]

The other person: “I went to school at Northwestern. Also, I love scuba diving and Lake Michigan is great for that.”

You: “No way. My friend is a scuba diving instructor. She was just talking about visiting the Great Lakes. [statement] Do you have a favorite diving spot?” [question 2]

The other person: “Yeah, there is this great spot that I found…”

Make sure that the interspersing statement relates to the previous answer given. Then ask the next, related question.

In general, the more comfortable we feel with somebody, the more we will switch over from a question-based conversation structure to a statement-based structure.

Just listen in on friends hanging out at a café. They talk in statements more than they ask each other questions.

Emulate that. It will do wonders for your interactions.

6. Be Energetic

Conversations are an energy exchange between two people. However, one person will always contribute more than the other person.

Naturally, we want to be around these energy givers. We want to feel recharged by them.

Fortunately, you can train yourself to be a giver, someone who provides emotional stimulation. When you do, people will flock to you.

The best method is to study someone famous, and how they energize those around them. Here are some ideas:

  • Barack Obama → for a witty, endearing energy
  • Donald Trump → for an outrageous, larger-than-life energy
  • Jennifer Lawrence → for a sarcastic, down-to-earth energy
  • Christopher Hitchens → for an educated, controversial energy
  • Mike Tyson → for a raw, primal energy
  • Sofía Vergara → for a zestful, attention-grabbing energy

As you can see, your energy doesn’t have to be positive (e.g., Trump, Hitchens, or Tyson). It just has to be infectious.

Observe how these people create an emotional effect — their posture, their gestures, their tonality, their facial expressions. Then reenact their behaviors in front of a mirror, until you become as infectious as they are.

7. Avoid Yes-No Questions

If you only ask yes-no questions, you will kill all conversational flow.

So instead of asking…

“Are you a student here, too?”


“What made you choose Northwestern University?”

Alternatively, make an observation about them:

“If I had to guess, I would say you are majoring in English lit. You have a writer’s vibe about you.”

Most people react positively to such cold reads. We love hearing about ourselves.

8. Don’t Judge

Our whole life, we have been judged by others — our parents, our teachers, our bosses, and our spouses.

But then, one day, you meet someone who delivers no verdicts. For once, nothing you say will be held against you.

Once we meet that special person, we will want to keep talking to them for the rest of our lives. It’s an extremely attractive trait.

You must turn yourself into this non-judgemental person.

Understand that no two people on this planet have had the exact same experiences. Therefore, everybody comes up with a different model of the world.

If you grew up in a war zone, your mental model is, “The world is a dangerous place.”

If you grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, your mental model is, “The world is my oyster.”

Both of these models are appropriate. They perfectly reflect your unique experiences.

If you bring this understanding to every conversation, you will be extremely easy to talk to. People will allow themselves to let their guard down with you.

9. Use Threads

Too often, conversation follows a linear pattern. It looks like this:

  1. Person A introduces topic A.
  2. Topic A is addressed by both parties until it goes stale.
  3. Person B introduces topic B.
  4. Topic B is addressed by both parties until it goes stale.
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It feels awkward, like working through a checklist.

Now compare this to a non-linear structure:

  1. Friend A introduces topic A.
  2. Friend B engages for a bit, but then jumps to topic B.
  3. Shortly after, they jump back to topic A.
  4. While still discussing topic A, a new thread, topic C is introduced.

Conversational threads keep popping up and disappearing, only to resurface again.

It feels natural to talk like this. At any point, the conversation can take unexpected, interesting turns. That keeps it fresh.

You must use this.

10. Use Hooks

Make use of conversational hooks. These hooks refer back to earlier elements of the conversation, subtly demonstrating that you pay attention.

For example, you might be talking to a new acquaintance at a party. In passing, they mention their shelter dog, Ginger. Half an hour later, while on a completely different topic, you interject, “By the way, where did you find Ginger? Friends of mine are also thinking about adopting.”

This will buy you massive credit with the other party, especially if you make these conversational hooks about things dear to the speaker, like their pets, their children, their dreams, etc.

11. Perfect Your Body Language

To be easy to talk to, you must look past the spoken word.

The vast part of our communication is non-verbal — the way you look at them, how you nod approvingly at the right moment, the confidence you exude. If these nonverbal elements are not in place, it does not matter how eloquent you are.

You must master your delivery — your body language, your tonality, your eye contact. Here are a few pointers.

a) Hold Eye Contact

During conversations, people’s eyes often dart around. Because they are nervous, they subconsciously keep scanning their environment for threats.

To stop doing that, look at the other person’s face and pick one eye, left or right. Whenever your own eyes start to wander, remind yourself to return your gaze to that one eye.

b) Don’t Fidget

Another nervous behavior is fidgeting. Some people will move their hands nonstop or nervously play with objects like a pen.

To get this under control, touch your thumb and your middle finger together. Do this with both hands.

Because it is something we usually don’t do, it keeps us from unconsciously moving too much. At the same time, it is subtle enough to not look strange and be noticed by others.

c) Watch Your Posture

Your mom was right all those years — you should keep your back straight.

A hunched-over posture signals weakness. To get this fixed, every time you walk by a window or a mirror — like a store window or a parked car — check your posture.

Also, ask your friends to remind you when there are no mirrors around, e.g., when sitting down at a café.

d) Avoid Rapport Laughter

Many people finish their sentences with nervous laughter, especially when they think they might have said something to offend.

That laughter is meant to take off the sting. But it’s a terrible habit — it makes you look like a coward who doesn’t stand by what they said.

To overcome this, use a microphone to record your interactions. Use a couple of headphones with an integrated microphone, hanging from your shirt. No one will notice.

Then relisten to your interactions. Now that you know what to look for, your rapport laughter will make you cringe. Keep monitoring yourself, and you will stop doing it.

How To Implement These Techniques

Here is how you implement the aforementioned techniques.

1. Treat Communication as a Skill Set

If you want to get better at playing the guitar, you must practice your chords. If you want to get better at boxing, you must do your pad work.

Communication is no different — to become easy to talk to, you must regularly train. Daily, deliberate practice is a must.

There are two reasons why people fail at that:

  1. Inertia. We are reluctant to change our established communicative patterns. These patterns have been ingrained into our subconscious over decades.
  2. Moralism. If you start to communicate more strategically, some people will attack you. They will frame you as a manipulator.

With the inertia problem, you should consider what you want most.

Do you want to keep behaving as you always have? Then you will get the results you have always gotten.

On the other hand, if you start breaking up these patterns, the results will be life-changing. Success in many areas of life — relationships, business, personal growth — is highly dependent on communicating well.

When moralists accuse you of manipulation, don’t let it faze you. All of us interact to get things (including moralists).

Reflecting on your communicative means is simply the sensible thing to do. To propose, “You shouldn’t communicate for better results” is like saying you shouldn’t learn how to swim properly.

2. Record Yourself

To become a better communicator, you need to get a feedback loop going. You need to see if it’s working.

The solution is to record yourself.

Tape as many interactions as you can — your daily morning meeting at work, your cold calls with prospective clients, your get-togethers with friends. Use video where you can. Otherwise, audio will suffice.

Then, each day, sit down for at least 30 minutes and analyze your recordings.

Take notes on what things you are already doing well. Write down what behaviors must still be improved. By reflecting on this, you will massively increase your situational awareness. It’s the best “hack” I know to become easy to talk to.

3. Pick One Behavior

Make sure to focus on just one new behavior at a time.

For example, if you are prone to rapport laughter, zero in on that. Get that problem taken care of before you tackle another behavior.

If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one

Russian proverb

4. Embrace Rejection

When you add new communicative behaviors to your arsenal, you will appear clumsy at first. It will be obvious to others that you are testing something out. This will not go over well.

Some people will just deride your gawky attempts at charming them. Some will show you the cold shoulder. Some will tell you to bugger off.

Your ability to deal with those rejections is crucial. If you take them to heart, you will quit. But if you learn to deal with them, you will get better faster.

The key is mindset.

An athlete failing at a new skill won’t think, “I am a bad, useless person.” They’ll think, “I need to work on my technique.”

You should do the same. When people reject you, don’t take it as a judgment on your person, but on your technique.

You should even enjoy rejections. It’s a sign that are trying out new things to become a more well-rounded person.

Finally, don’t get angry at people rejecting you. They might not subscribe to your ideas about personal development, but that doesn’t make them bad people.

3 Pitfalls To Watch Out For

To be easy to talk to, avoid these pitfalls.

1. Submissiveness vs. Confidence vs. Cockiness

We don’t enjoy people being around people who are too submissive. Be too docile, and people will lose respect for you.

At the same time, if you act too confident, you will come across as cocky. People don’t like that either.

It’s a fine line to walk. You must demonstrate that you are comfortable in your own skin, without trying to dominate the other person.

2. New vs. Established Contacts

There is a difference if you are talking to somebody that you just met versus somebody you have known for a while.

If you are still new to each other, you must carry more of the conversational load. You can’t just sit there quietly, or the other person will get tired of moving the interaction forward.

But the more familiar you become with each other, the more you should stop talking and start listening. Give the other person space to spread themselves out, so to speak. They will appreciate it.

3. Natural vs. Artificial Communication

A lot of communication coaches will advise a rather artificial way of speaking.

For example, instead of stating, “That is stupid,” you are supposed to say, “I feel this course of action is not ideal. But that’s my subjective opinion. You might feel differently about it. ”

There are upsides and downsides to this approach.

On the one hand, you are less likely to offend people. That’s a plus. Nobody likes to feel insulted.

On the other hand, such language can come across as bloated and inauthentic.

My recommendation is to reserve the therapy talk for difficult conversations. For example, when you are trying to tell your partner what you find annoying about them, it’s undoubtedly a good idea to communicate extra gently.

But if you are having a lighthearted conversation with a stranger, you probably want to refrain from it. Since you are still new to each other, “weird” communicative patterns will be seen as a nuisance.

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