Some people are very outgoing and always willing to spark up a conversation with the next Jim, John or Sally that walks around the corner. Are you jealous of strangers at the supermarket who have a 20 minute conversation about lima beans? Or maybe you’re so nervous about having awkward conversations with people that you avoid them at all cost? Whatever your reason for wanting to know how to talk to people, you’ve already made the first step in learning the skill. You’ve identified the need to brush up on your people skills. The following steps will help you even more in your quest to learn how to talk to people.
Be approachable. You can't stand there with your head down and your arms crossed and expect people to want to talk to you. You have to make someone want to talk to you, and your body language is the first part of that. Smile and look interested in a person and they'll likely be more willing to talk to you.
Start with small talk. Try saying a few words to a person, kind of "matter-of-factly". Act as though you aren't concerned if they start up a conversation with you or not, but you just wanted to tell them something. It can be as easy as "you dropped something" or maybe even a little useless fact that you've been storing away for this very moment. They'll likely respond with a few short words, giving you an opening to start a conversation.
Sound interesting. If you're hoping to talk to people, you'll need to have a wealth of information to continue a conversation. It's good to stay up to date on current topics. And even though you'll probably have an opinion on some topics, don't take such a harsh stand on a topic that people will feel pigeon-holed and want to flee the conversation immediately. Be willing to discuss things with people, instead of telling them things. If there is a dull moment in the conversation, ask an open-ended question to get your audience thinking. A conversation needs to be two-sided, and you need to hold up your end of the bargain if you want to learn how to talk to people.
Be respectful. Whomever you are speaking with needs to feel like their opinions and comments are valued as you speak with them. Regardless of how you feel, you need to be respectful of the thought and emotions of others. Remember that it is healthy to disagree, but it is not healthy to argue, so stay positive. Listen sincerely, be open to new ideas and grant people the right to their own opinion. If you come across as close-minded, few people will want to continue talking to you.
Listen. A big part of knowing how to talk to people is knowing how to listen to people. Don't just wait for them to stop speaking so you can jump in. Listen and absorb what the other person is saying to you. Make certain that you understand exactly what they are saying to you. They will appreciate speaking with you much more if you can do this.
When you learn how to talk to people, you are also learning how to interact and be with people. You can easily start talking to someone with small talk, but you need to stay engaged, interested and open to their opinions if you expect the conversation to last. Practice these skills and with a little time, you’ll be known for your skill of knowing how to talk to people.