5 Ways to Get Quiet People to Speak Up

Visitors, you’re on a roll here! Recently someone found this blog by searching for this:

How [do you] get quiet people to speak up?


1. Figure out their passion in life. For example, I love science fiction, hiking, and late nineteenth to mid twentieth century American and Canadian history. When I find someone who knows a little (or a lot!) about these things I can’t help but to talk to them about it.

2. Give them time. Sometimes people are quiet in part because it takes them a little while to feel out new acquaintances.  I respond much more quickly to people who are patient and kind while I’m warming up to them. This kind of courtesy and understanding  speaks volumes about one’s character.

3. Accept no as an answer. One of the least helpful things one can do is push anyone into being more talkative. Being quiet isn’t a personality defect. I can’t speak for every quiet person but I know I’m much less likely to open up to someone who cannot take no for an answer.

4. Ask them what they think. There have been times when a group conversation moves so quickly that I have trouble getting a word in edgewise. While I’d certainly never expect anyone to do this I don’t mind being asked what I think.

5. Try a different medium. I’m fairly quiet on the phone and in person but much less so through email or instant messaging because I like to think about what I’m going to say before I blurt it out. It’s much easier for me to do this with the written word. This won’t be true for every quiet person, of course, but you still might have more luck if you change how you communicate with them.


Fellow quiet people, have I missed anything?

Everyone, what have been your experiences with encouraging (but not forcing!) quiet friends to speak their minds?


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8 Responses to 5 Ways to Get Quiet People to Speak Up

  1. Quiet people that I know talk more during activities that don’t require talking, like driving or walking. They sometimes “dont know what to day” if they are just “talking” as the activity.

    I wonder if Jim Schoch knows what I’m talking about? 🙂

  2. Sarah B.

    As a fellow quiet person, I totally agree with number four.  I’ve often been stuck in that situation where the conversation moves so fast that by the time I really formulate what I want to say, the moment has passed.  Like you though, I’d never expect anyone to ask me what I thought.  Also, I do tend to communicate better with email rather than in person or on the phone.

    Talking during an activity that doesn’t require talking is also very good.  I’m much more likely to talk when there is something else going on and I won’t have to be the center of attention, so to speak.  I’ve found a friendly game of cards works well for me.  In fact, playing euchre was how I ended up warming up to my husband’s family when we were dating.

    • I love that story.

      I’ve never played euchre – is it easy to learn?

      • Sarah B.

         I think euchre is fairly easy to learn, but I can’t speak for every one.  My dad taught me when I was a kid.  There are two kinds, turn up (which is what I play) and bid.  I think turn up is easier for learning if you were going to give it a try.  Maybe one of these days, if we ever see each other in person again, we’ll have to play.

  3. Number 1 is exactly what works for me!  I tend to be quiet, but I’ll talk for hours about science, tech or music….in High School my nickname was Champagne, because I’d sit quietly until some discussion would ‘uncork’ me, and then I’d be all effervescent.

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