As a kid, I often felt shy. I learned how to become talkative and throughout the process, I discovered that we can also become too talkative to the point where it doesn’t benefit us anymore. It’s a fine line to walk.
If you’ve always been dreaming of having awesome friends and leaving a great impression with strangers you meet, going abroad is one of the best opportunities to change that as we get a totally new environment to practice in. It won’t happen automatically just because we are moving but with the reset of a new scenery, it’s easier.
I’ve found that there are two approaches on how to become talkative: the short term and long term techniques. Both are important because in the short term we’ll see that it really works quickly but most of us forget that just because it worked once, it doesn’t mean that we have changed many years of old habits.
Let’s first look at ideas for getting results right away and then move on to how we can make a meaningful change for life. To get short term results, we have to think about what we do, try something new and that takes effort. It is turning the new approach we learn into a long term habit that makes it effortless and easy for us for life.
How to become talkative: a technique you can use this weekend
Becoming talkative is not something that happens overnight. It requires extra work but I’ve discovered that making a good impression on strangers reaps us amazing results and makes it well worth it. I’ve landed several jobs abroad and met some amazing people through becoming better with people instead of sitting in silence playing on my phone.
It isn’t just about talking in general and as much as possible. The quality of what we say matters and surprisingly, one of the keys is to listen well. In fact, even if we are talkative we should usually listen more than we speak because it allows us to better show the other person that we are present with them and that they feel heard.
When we do speak, the best topic is always mutual interests or something we have in common to start off the conversation. That is easy with someone we know but hard with strangers and preparing by reading a little about a lot every now and then helps since we’ll have more to talk about and are able to ask better questions. A great place to start is to read about recent events around the world before going to a party.
A good way to find common ground with strangers is through small talk and by asking open-ended questions. Being in a foreign country, things like “what brought you here?” tends to work well.
Often after answering the question, they’ll ask it back to us and that’s where experimenting is great. Try a few different stories, notice how people react and then keep the stories that get the reaction you are looking for and stop saying the ones that don’t resonate. For example, by trying a new way to answer that question for every gathering or party you go to over the next month or so.
After a bit of small talk around questions such as “what brought you here?” and “have you been here for a long time?”, you’ll begin to spot common ground that you can switch the conversation to.
Some of us don’t like the feeling of being judged and wonder whether other people will like what we have to say. We can’t control whether they like it, especially if it’s a stranger we don’t know well but we can change the way we think about it to be that we are not a good fit as there are always other people out there who will appreciate it or agree with us.
We can also focus on saying something of value by imagining what they might be interested in based on our initial small talk and learning what kind of mutual interests we have. Most people find value in others listening to them, which doesn’t require us to talk much but instead ask great questions and add perspectives or points we’ve read or heard from time to time.
For example, if we meet someone who is interested in robotics, we don’t have to know a lot about it to become talkative and have a deep conversation with them. Instead, we might happen to have read an article that left us with a question we didn’t get answered. We can ask them to hear their point of view and share that we read about another point of view in an article while pointing out that we are learning.
We might not have read any article in advance but the idea can come from anything we’ve been exposed to in the past and it comes back to the idea of knowing a little about a lot. By practicing bringing out the point of view of others, we are able to satisfy our own curiosity, hold a deep conversation with any stranger and be able to form our own intelligent opinion without knowing much about the topic in advance.
The key is that if we don’t know much about the topic, we shouldn’t share the opinion of others as our own. Instead, we can highlight the point of view from one group followed by that of another.
If you feel nervous starting the conversation at an event, consider playing the sixty second game where the goal is to start the conversation with someone within the first minute before we can talk ourselves out of it. It can be anyone, even the host or the girl taking coats. It can help us warm up and create some good energy that can carry us to the next conversation.
Avoid being too talkative
The reason we might not be talkative is that we may have too high expectations for what is worth saying. In that case, lowering our expectations for what is good enough can help but quality is still more important than quantity. It’s hard to know when we’ve lowered it too much as there isn’t a definitive answer but keeping track of roughly how much you speak compared to before and the reactions you get, is a good starting point.
The reality is that just because others talk a lot doesn’t mean that we should. Sometimes we should shut up and keep quiet!
Being talkative is a fine line to walk because there’s always the chance that we become too talkative to the point where it becomes annoying.
There is no easy way to judge that across the board and especially when we are in the thick of it. As a general rule, I’d suggest talking less than the other person, meaning that they should speak at least 50% of the time. Often more.
Action step: On our way figuring out how to become talkative it also makes sense to note down when we feel more ready to talk compared to when we don’t. I suggest noting down who you are with, what you are doing, the time of day and how you feel, both when you feel talkative and when you don’t.
Over the course of a week I bet you’ll find patterns that can help you discover why you don’t feel talkative at times. It might be just before eating where we are low on energy and need to eat. In that case, eating or drinking coffee should work.
Effortlessly become talkative for life
Once we’ve been more talkative in a few situations, it makes sense to turn it into something long term.
One of the biggest challenges with people skills is that it is so fluid that it feels impossible to know when we are done and talkative “enough”. I strongly suggest picking a goal and a timeline for yourself so you know where the finish line is. For example, you might set a goal of wanting to talk to 3 people at this upcoming event next week, have a 10-min conversation with someone or learn about X topic and get these 3 questions answered.
I particularly like the last one because you can use your curiosity to start the conversation with an expert and focus on their knowledge rather than putting yourself on the spot.
The people who succeed are the people that experiment and keep trying, even if they make a mistake. I still make mistakes but I’ve become less afraid of it as I’ve learned that the trick is to stick to what we know works in important situations, and experiment with new ideas in low stakes situations where it doesn’t matter as much if we make a mistake. For example with our friends or in line at the coffee shop rather than at the job interview.
I know it’s a little unusual to talk about making mistakes when we talk about how to become talkative, but the reason I’m bringing it up is that we might be holding ourselves back because we don’t want to make mistakes. If we can become ok with it and not beat ourselves up when it doesn’t work the first time, it’s much easier to become talkative since we’ll continue practicing.
Which brings me to my next point.
Practice! Even if the idea of practicing conversations feels weird to you. Over time, we get better and we’ll feel more motivated to talk in situations where we previously didn’t, and then we don’t need to practice much anymore.
Contrary to what we might think, that is what the smooth pros do who weren’t born that way. If you feel embarrassed by it, don’t tell anyone about it. And if you feel nervous, play the conversation out in your head before you have it in real life.
Moving abroad, many people create a little alter ego in their new country without realizing it. It’s a great way to change some of the things we dream of changing and it often happens if we are learning the local language. We can use the idea to envision ourselves as talkative, perhaps like someone we look up to and imagine what it would be like if we were the same in the situation.
As we get used to that, we’ll automatically build a habit of becoming talkative over time and that will merge with our existing personality. We won’t be needing that feeling of an alter ego (although the idea of going into a phone box and changing to a superman outfit might still attract you) but will be left with a great new habit of being talkative and memorable instead of sitting silently in the corner playing snake on our phone.
- Both short term and long term results have their place when we are learning how to become talkative
- Talking more isn’t always good, quality is everything and sometimes we shouldn’t talk even if others talk a lot
- If we find ourselves talking to a stranger about a topic we know nothing about we can share a point of view of other experts from an article or documentary, and view it as a part of the process of forming our own opinion on the topic while learning from others