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How to Talk to People

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Written by Tiahnna Osorio

Many people at SOAR struggle with being social, whether from the abundance of introverts or just the stress melting their brains, but it's there.

In the article "10 Tips to Talk About Anything With Anyone" by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, she explores tips first developed by Carl Rogers. They include: listen, use empathetic reflecting skills, turn on your nonverbal detectors, avoid snap judgments, don't assume people will agree with you, try to learn from each interaction, stay on top of the news, know when to talk, and don't overshare.

To begin, it's essential to listen to someone when they're talking to you. This is something everyone knows but can be difficult for some in practice. I would suggest paying attention to how much you're talking in the conversation and whether you're cutting people off or not letting them add to the discussion.

Second, make use of empathetic reflecting abilities. This is often some people's initial reaction to finding out something shocking, but it can also be used to show concern. What are empathetic reflecting skills exactly, though? It's when someone repeats a phrase back at someone to project empathy. For example, someone says, "My cat died," and the other responds, "Your cat died! I'm so sorry." It can be unnecessary in some situations and can even be considered bothersome, so I'd suggest taking this advice with a grain of salt.

Next, turning on your nonverbal detectors is a way of saying pay attention to the body language of the person you're speaking to. Are they uncomfortable? Are they anxious? These are all things that can be indicated with body language, so make sure you pay attention.

Another tip is to avoid snap judgments. These means don't immediately judge others. It's easy to mistake shyness as being stuck up, so remember to communicate your feelings and not directly jump to conclusions.

Next up is, don't assume people will agree with you. People have different opinions, and it's important to remember that starting unnecessary arguments is an example of poor social skills.

In addition to this, stay on top of the news. For us high school students, though, I'd consider this more of staying on top of the upcoming social events and upcoming class assignments. You can bring up school topics if you need a conversation starter or participate in small talk with just about any student.

Next up is to know when to talk and don't overshare. These go hand in hand. Sometimes we don't know when to continue the conversation, but it's essential to determine the mood to determine if you're invading someone's quiet time. Also, don't make people uncomfortable by oversharing. Some things are just not meant to be shared, and it's important to remember that. This is mainly concerning telling people you don't know intimate details. This does not pertain to telling friends that you're struggling with something; you should tell others if you need help to build a support system.

Finally, remember to learn from every interaction. Do people not like that one joke you tell? Stop telling it. Do you make someone uncomfortable by being too nosy? Change that habit. It's important to remember that socializing is a skill and requires practice and continuous change.

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